Glimpses Through Life's Windows

Choice selections from J.R. Miller's writings, 1893


This book claims only to give "glimpses." In these hurried days many people have time to read only paragraphs. Ofttimes it happens, too, that merely in a few well-chosen sentences, a lesson is taught or an inspiration given which helps and blesses a life for many days. Many of the paragraphs here gathered contain incidents or illustrations through and by which the truth is presented. Everyone knows the value of good illustrations. They help to make the teaching clear, and they help to fix the lesson in the memory. For this purpose, among others, it is hoped that these "glimpses" may prove of value.

The book is sent out in the loving hope that its words may stimulate many to a truer, better, richer, holier life. In this earthly state, with its hindrances and weights, we need to be reminded continually that, "he most lives who . . .
  thinks most,
  feels the noblest,
  acts the best."

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The crosses we make

A cross is composed of two pieces of wood. The shorter piece represents your will and the longer piece represents God's will. Lay the two pieces side by side and there is no cross; but lay the shorter piece across the longer one and you have a cross.

Just so, whenever our will falls across God's will there is a cross in our life. We make a cross for ourselves . . .
  every time we do not accept Christ's way,
  every time we murmur at anything He sends,
  every time we will not do what He commands.

But when we quietly accept what He gives, when we yield in sweet acquiescence to His will, though it shatters our fairest hopes, when we let our will lie alongside His there are no crosses in our life, and we have found the peace of Christ.

"My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, may Your will be done." Matthew 26:42

"I delight to do Your will, O my God!" Psalm 40:8 

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All base desires, all bad habits, all longings for ignoble things which we vanquish and trample down become ladder-rungs on which we climb upward out of earthliness and sinfulness into purer and Christlier character. There really is no other way by which we can rise upward. If we are not living victoriously in our little common days we surely are not making any progress. Only those who climb, are mounting toward the stars. Heaven itself at last, and the heavenly life here on earth are for those only who overcome.

"To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with Me on My throne!" Revelation 3:21

"He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be My son!" Revelation 21:7

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The only thing that concerns us

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

Is not God wise enough to manage the complications of our lives and to bring order and beauty out of them? Has He not skill enough? Is He not our Father? and will He not always do the very best and wisest thing for us? Should we not trust Him and cease to be anxious about anything that we have committed to Him? Is not anxiety, doubt? and is not doubt, sin? We are simply to commit our way to the Lord, trust Him, and be at peace.

The only thing that concerns us, is our DUTY. God will weave the complicated web of our lives, into patterns of beauty unless we mar it by our follies and sins. But His plans are sometimes very long, and our impatience may mar them, as well as our sins. The buds of His purposes, must not be torn open. We must wait until His fingers unfold them.

"Commit your way to the LORD. Trust also in Him and He shall bring it to pass." Psalm 37:5

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First there comes bitterness

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus . . . who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God!" Hebrews 12:2

Christ Himself had humiliation, darkness, and the shame of the cross and then exaltation, power, and glory. In Christian life, the same law holds: First there comes bitterness but out of the bitterness, sweetness flows.

There is the deep sorrow of penitence but this gives way to the blessed joy of forgiveness.

First there are self-denial and cross-bearing but out of these experiences comes a holy peace which fills all the heart.

Sorrows are to be endured but the good wine of comfort is poured into the empty cup.

There is also a constant progression in the blessings of the Divine life. We never get to the end of them; indeed, we never get to the best. There is always something better yet to come. Heaven will make amends for all!

"Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning." Psalm 30:5

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A picture of what every Christian life should be!

A writer tells of going with a group of visitors, down into a coal mine. On the side of the passageway grew a flower which was perfectly white. The visitors were astonished, that there, where the coal dust was continually flying this little flower would be so pure and white. A miner, who was with them, took a handful of black coal dust and threw it upon the plant, but not a particle adhered. Every atom of the black dust rolled off. The visitors themselves repeated the experiment, but the coal dust would not cling. There was a wonderful enamel on the folds of the white flower to which no speck could adhere. Living there amid clouds of black dust nothing could stain its snowy white!

This is a picture of what every Christian life should be. We live in an evil world. We go among the ungodly continually in our daily walk and work. Unholy influences breathe all around us; but it is our mission to be pure amid all this vileness undefiled, unspotted from the world.

If God can make a little flower, so that no black dust can stain its whiteness can He not by His grace so transform your heart and life, that no sin can cling to you? If God can keep a little flower stainless, as white as snow, amid clouds of black coal dust can He not keep hearts of His people in like purity, in this world of sin?

"So that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe!" Philippians 2:15

"Religion that is pure and unblemished in the sight of God the Father is this . . . to keep oneself unspotted and uncontaminated from the world!" James 1:27

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God knows best what cross we need to bear!

There is a poem called "The Changed Cross." It represents a weary one who thought that her cross was surely heavier than those of others whom she saw around her, and wished that she might choose another cross instead of her own.

She slept, and in her dream she was led to a place where many crosses lay crosses of various types, shapes and sizes.

There was a little cross most beauteous to behold, set in jewels and gold. "Ah, this I can wear with comfort," she said. So she took it up, but her weak form shook beneath it. The jewels and the gold were beautiful, but they were far too heavy for her.

Next she saw a lovely cross with fair flowers entwined around its sculptured form. Surely that was the one for her. She lifted it, but beneath the flowers were piercing thorns which tore her flesh.

At last, as she went on, she came to a plain cross, without jewels, without ornate carving, with only a few words of love inscribed upon it. This she took up, and it proved the best of all, the easiest to be borne. And as she looked upon it, bathed in the radiance which fell from Heaven she recognized her own old cross. She had found it again, and it was the best of all, and lightest for her!

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God knows best what cross we need to bear!

We do not know how heavy other people's crosses are.

We envy one who is rich his is a golden cross set with jewels. But we do not know how heavy it is.

Here is another whose life seems very lovely. She bears a cross entwined with flowers. But we do not know what sharp thorns are hidden beneath the flowers.

If we could try all the other crosses which we think are lighter than ours, we would at last find that not one of them suited us as well as our own!

"I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are right and righteous, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me!" Psalm 119:75

"God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it!" Hebrews 12:10-11

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Amid the sorrows and trials of the world

"The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold." Psalm 18:2

In a gallery at Florence hangs a picture which represents a stormy sea, with wild waves and black clouds and fierce lightnings flashing across the sky. Wrecks were afloat on the angry waters, and here and there a human face is seen in the turbulent waters. Out of the midst of the waves, a rock rises, against which the waters dash in vain. It towers high above the crest of the waves. In a cleft of the rock are some tufts of grass and green herbage, with sweet flowers blooming; and amid these a dove is seen, sitting on her nest, quiet and undisturbed by the wild fury of the storm, or the mad dashing of the waves below her.
The picture fitly represents the peace of the Christian amid the sorrows and trials of the world. He is hidden in the cleft of the Rock of Ages, and nestles securely in the bosom of God's unchanging love.

"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27

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"Are you seeking great things for yourself? Do not seek them!" Jeremiah 45:5

This lesson is not an easy one to learn, for we all want to erect our work for God on the summit of a mountain, where it will be seen by all the world. We easily forget that sometimes the greatest work we can perform for Him, is to do the little things He gives us to do, quietly and sweetly.

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The power of habit!

A California stagecoach driver had held the leather reins for so many years, that when he began to grow old, his hands were crooked into hooks, and his fingers were so stiffened into that shape that they could not be straightened out.
There is a similar process that goes on in men's minds and souls, when they continue to do the same things over and over. If you are trained, and train yourself, from childhood . . .
  to be gentle and patient,
  to control your temper,
  to resist all wrong
your life will grow into moral beauty, and the peacefulness of your heart will at length shine upon your very face.

If, on the other hand, you give way from childhood . . .
  to all ugly tempers,
  to resentful feelings,
  to all bitterness and anger
your life will grow into permanent moral disfigurement.
One who accustoms himself to think of pure and holy things, who sets his affections on things above, and strives to reach for things which are true, things which are honorable, things which are lovely will grow heavenward toward the things which he loves and thinks upon.

But one who lets his mind turn habitually . . .
  to debasing things,
  to unholy things,
  to impure things,
  to earthly things
will find his whole soul bending downward, and growing sinful, corrupt, and evil.

"Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise!" Philippians 4:8

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The flowers are growing to strew on their graves

There is a great host of weary men and women, toiling on through life, toward the grave who most sorely need, just now, the cheering words and helpful ministries which we can give.

You are gathering incense of affection to scatter about their coffins; but why should it not be scattered in the hard paths on which their feet today are treading?

The kind words are lying in men's hearts unexpressed, trembling on their tongues unvoiced which will be spoken by and by, when these weary ones are sleeping in their graves. But why should they not be spoken now, when they are needed so much, and when the kind words would give such cheer and hope?

The flowers are growing to strew on their graves; but why not cut them now to brighten their dreary lives and dark paths.
Many a godly man goes plodding through life, living obscurely yet living a true Christian life, doing many a quiet kindness to his neighbors and friends yet seldom hearing a word of appreciation or praise. The vases, filled with the incense of affection, are kept sealed. The flowers are not cut from the stems. One day you stand by his coffin, and there are enough kind things said to have brightened every hour of his life if only they had been said at the right time. There are enough flowers piled upon his casket, to have kept his chamber filled with fragrance all through his years if only they had been sent day by day. How his heavy heart would have thanked God, if, in the midst of his toils, burdens, and struggles he could have heard a few of the words of affection and appreciation which are now wasted on ears that hear them not! How much happier he would have been in his weary days if he had known how many kind friends he had!

But, poor man! he had to die before the appreciation could express itself. Then he could not hear the gentle words spoken over his cold lifeless body. The love blossomed out too late!

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Their blessings fall upon us as perpetually, in a gentle rain of grace

We need Jesus just as much in our bright, prosperous, comfortable days as in the days of darkness, adversity, and affliction. We are quite in danger of thinking that religion is only for sickrooms and funerals, and for times of great sorrow and trial . . .
  as a lamp to shine at night,
  as a staff to help when the road is rough,
  as a friendly hand to hold us up when we are stumbling.

This is not true. Jesus went to the marriage feast as well as to the home of sorrow. His religion is just as much for our hours of joy as for our days of grief. There are just as many stars in the sky at noon, as at midnight although we cannot see them in the sun's glare. And there are just as many comforts, promises, divine encouragements, and blessings for us when we are in the sunshine of our human gladness and earthly success as when we are in our nights of pain and shadow. We may not see them in the brightness about us, but they are there, and their blessings fall upon us as perpetually, in a gentle rain of grace.

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A boy growing up in a home of poverty

A good many years ago, there was a boy growing up in a home of poverty, with no advantages. He was long and lanky a most clumsy boy. He would lie on the earthen floor at night, when the day's work was done, reading by the dim firelight. There seemed little hope that the boy would ever be a man of influence. But the years pass, and we see him as President of the United States. One day we see him taking a pen and signing a paper which frees millions of slaves, and writes the name of Abraham Lincoln among the immortal names.
Just so, we should all just go on with our daily tasks, doing the best we can in our circumstances and wait for God's timing. It takes months for the apple to grow mellow and sweet on the tree. If you are a disciple of Christ He is going to make something very beautiful, very noble out of your life, when His work on you is finished. You will not always be struggling with faults, fainting under infirmities, bowing beneath burdens, striving in vain against difficulties. It does not yet appear what you will be; but there is glory in reserve for every faithful follower of Jesus!

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The infallible umpire

The throne of Russia was once occupied by two boy princes. They sat side by side and gave their decisions on the gravest questions. Their judgments were so wise and just, that men marveled that princes so young and inexperienced, could know so much of statecraft, or speak with such discretion on questions so difficult. But the secret was that close behind the throne where they sat, hidden by a thin veil, was the Princess Sophia. She heard the cases which were brought to them, and she gave the decisions which they delivered. They referred every question to her, and waited until she had whispered to them the wise answer, which they gave out.
In like manner, the Word of Christ should dwell richly in our heart. We are to refer every matter to the Holy Spirit, and wait for His decision. Then what He bids us to do we are to do. Thus Christ will rule every thought, every feeling and every affection. He will settle every point of duty. He will sit as the infallible umpire in all questions of daily living of duty, of relationships, of recreations, of business.

"I have better understanding and deeper insight than all my teachers, because Your testimonies are my meditation!" Psalm 119:99

"How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to Your Word." Psalm 119:9

"Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom." Colossians 3:16

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The volcano is quiet and silent for years. No fires and lava pour forth from its crater. Meanwhile, people venture up its slopes, and lay out their gardens, and build their villas, and plant their vineyards. And flowers bloom, and fruits hang in purple clusters, and beauty covers the once fire-swept, lava-furrowed mountain slopes. But has the volcano really been tamed? Have its fires been put out? Is all permanently peaceful in the volcano's heart?

Just so is the heart of a man, who has merely trained himself into good moral and ethical habits. What the best mere self-culture can do for a life is no more than the planting of flowers and vineyards on the volcano's sides while all its fires still burn within, ready to break forth again any day in all their old fury! Good manners are not saving religion. The heart must be changed. The heart of stone, must be made a heart of flesh. The heart that hates God, and holiness and purity must become a heart that loves God, His holy ways, and His holy Word.

"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances." Ezekiel 36:26-27

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True, victorious living

Many of us find life hard and full of pain. The world treats us meanly and roughly. We suffer wrongs and injuries. Other people's clumsy feet tread upon our tender hearts. We must endure misfortunes, trials, and disappointments. We cannot avoid these things, but we should not allow the harsh experiences to deaden our sensibilities, or make us stoic or sour. The true aim of living, is to keep our hearts sweet and gentle amid the hardest conditions and experiences.
If you remove the snow from the hillside in the late winter, you will find sweet flowers growing there, beneath the cold drifts, unhurt by the storm and by the snowy blankets that have covered them. Just so, should we keep our hearts tender and sensitive beneath life's fiercest winter blasts, and through the longest years of suffering, and even of injustice and wrong treatment. That is true, victorious living.

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose!" Romans 8:28

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Heaven! Heaven! It is Heaven!

An author tells of a French ship which had been lost for months amid storms in the southern seas. One morning land was espied from the mast-head. Passengers and crew gathered on deck, awaiting the sight of the coming shore in suspense. Vague outlines only were seen, so vague that the uncertainty almost broke the hearts of the watchers. Was it land? If so, what land? Could it be France? Was it indeed France? Or was it some strange country?

Nearer and nearer they came. Clearer and more distinct became the outlines. After some hours, hours which seemed days, the lookout cried, "France! France! It is France!" The joy of the ship's company knew no bounds. They were indeed home after all their wanderings, and all their dangers and fears!
So will it be with us believers, when, through the mists of that sea which we call death, we approach the shores of eternal life. After the dimness of dying our eyes shall open to behold the banks of the celestial land! Then the shout will not be, "France! It is France!" but "Heaven! Heaven! It is Heaven!" The storms will all be past. We shall be in eternal glory. Then we shall have life in all its fullness. Then we shall be home forever!

"No eye has seen,
 no ear has heard, and
 no mind has imagined
 what God has prepared for those who love Him!" 1 Corinthians 2:9

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The cost of all truly helpful and holy living

Prosperity has never enriched the world, as adversity has done. The best thoughts, the richest lessons, the sweetest songs which have come down to us from the past have not come from the minds and hearts of those who have known no privation, no suffering, no adversity. They are the fruit of pain, of weakness, of trial.

Men have cried out for emancipation from the bondage of hardship, of sickness, of infirmity, of poverty not realizing that the very trial which seemed to be hindering them in their career was making whatever was noble, beautiful, and blessed in their life. The cost of all truly helpful and holy living, is pain!

We must not forget that redemption and Heaven come to be ours, only through the bitter sufferings and cross of the Son of God.

In all of life, the sweetest comforts and the richest blessings, come to us at the cost of suffering and tears. The fruit of earth's "thorns" seems bitter to the taste, but it is the wholesome food of human souls.

"God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:10-11

"Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey Your word." Psalm 119:67

"It was good for me to be afflicted, so that I might learn your decrees." Psalm 119:71

"I know, O LORD, that Your laws are righteous, and in faithfulness You have afflicted me." Psalm 119:75

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From desert to garden!

In traveling to California, we passed over hundreds of miles of the dreariest desert. The hot sands glowed and burned under the sun's rays. Rain scarcely ever falls, and nothing grows on the arid wastes except straggling sagebush and wild cacti. On and on our train rolled, hour after hour, amid choking dust and unrelieved desolation.

At length, however, we began to pass into the first fringes of luxuriance, and soon we were in the midst of the garden splendors of Southern California flowers, fragrance, and fruit, masses of roses and flowers of all kinds, orange groves, clumps of ornamental trees, vineyards, and palm trees. In an hour we had left behind us the dreary desert and had entered the richest garden luxuriance of the world!
It is just so with many Christians, in leaving this poor world for Heaven. Here on earth are trials, afflictions, struggles, strifes, bitter tears, disappointments, injustices, hardships and cares. Life seems all desert to these desert toilers. No springs of fresh water burst up along the way to refresh them. Nothing grows in the hot arid fields, to be food for their heart hunger.
What must Heaven be to these weary ones, when they enter it leaving forever behind them, the dreary desolation of this world? In an hour they will pass from the heat, strife, and bitterness of earthly sorrow into the eternal blessedness, the perfect love, and the unbroken joy of Heaven!  

"In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand there are eternal pleasures!" Psalm 16:11 

"No eye has seen,
 no ear has heard, and
 no mind has imagined
 what God has prepared for those who love Him!" 1 Corinthians 2:9 

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The eye of God is ever upon us!

A flower blooms no more sweetly, because it is gazed at by an admiring crowd. It would be just as lovely, if it grew in the depths of a great forest where no eye ever saw it.

The stars look down with as much brilliancy into the desert, where no one looks up at them as into the streets of the great city where thousands behold them.

The sea breaks with as much majesty on an uninhabited shore as where its waves kiss the feet of multitudes.

It is just so in all true Christian life and work. When one is doing any great thing, and shows by his attitude that he is conscious of it more than half the greatness is gone from the performance. When a man knows that he is living a life that is very great in its service, when he is conscious that he is being noticed by others much of the glory is gone from his life. We should live just as sweetly and beautifully when no one is looking upon us to see our deed and praise our life as when all the world is beholding. The eye of God is ever upon us, and it is His approval and commendation that we should always seek to deserve.

It is said of the great sculptor, Michael Angelo, that when at work he wore a little lamp fastened on his cap, in order that no shadow of himself might fall upon his work.

Just so, we need to take care that no shadows of ourselves, of our pride, our ambition, our self-seeking shall fall upon our work for Christ.

To labor in Christian work, that we ourselves may have the glory is to dim and darken the beauty of all we do, and also to make ourselves vessels unfit for the Master's use. We are ready for the most sacred of all ministries only when we are content to be nothing, that Christ may be all in all.

"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." Matthew 6:1-4

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Mamma, kiss me!

That was a touching story which Mr. Gladstone gave in Parliament, when announcing the death of the Princess Alice. Her little boy was ill with diphtheria, and the mother had been cautioned not to inhale the poisoned breath. The child was tossing in the delirium of fever. The Princess stood beside him and laid her hand on his brow to caress him. The touch cooled the fevered brain, and brought back the wandering soul from its wild delirium. He nestled a moment in his mother's lap; then, throwing his arms around her neck, he whispered, "Mamma, kiss me." Mother-love was stronger than all the injunctions of physicians and she pressed her lips to the child's. The result was her death.
You say that she was foolish. Yet where is the mother who would not have done the same? Love stops at no peril, at no sacrifice. There was great peril in Christ's own mission to this world. In His marvelous love for us, He put his lips to the poison of our sin and died in our place!

"Christ loved the church, and gave Himself up for her!" Ephesians 5:25

"I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep!" John 10:11

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We must not cut our lives in two

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God!" 1 Corinthians 10:31-33

True religion is simply living out the principles of Christianity in one's ordinary week-day life! It is getting the Bible, and the prayers, and the church services into thought and act and character!

We must not cut our lives in two, and call one part secular governing it by one set of principles; and then regard the other part as sacred to be controlled by another set of rules. All of life should be made sacred, in the sense that everything is to be done in such a way as to please God, under the direction of His counsel in His Word. We have just as much true religion, as we get into our week-day life and not a whit more! Whatever we do, even to eating and drinking, we should do in the name of the Lord Jesus!

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Her goodness touches their vileness

A lovely and godly woman learned of a poor district in a great city, whose people are ruled by the basest passions. They live in wretchedness and degradation. Moved by a loving pity she leaves her own happy home, and goes to live in the midst of these debased men and women. She moves in and out among them. She teaches their children. She visits their miserable abodes when they are sick, and ministers to their needs.

It is costly serving for her. She suffers terribly in her sensitive soul from their abject wickedness. But she makes no complaint, and continues to live out her sweet, pure life among them. Her goodness touches their vileness and begins to dispel it. Her love blesses their soiled lives.
There she stays a loving, patient, ministering angel, giving out her life until that spot of wretchedness has begun to change. The degradation yields to purity. Into the squalor of their homes come bits of beauty, and hints of moral refinement. On Sundays you may see this lovely angel-woman, with a company of restored lives around her, which she has lifted up out of sin and debasement, by the mighty power of her pure, unselfish love. That is true Christlike serving!

"Then the King will say to those on His right: Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world!
For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat;
I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink;
I was a stranger and you invited Me in;
I was naked and you clothed Me;
I was sick and you visited Me;
I was in prison and you came to visit Me!" Matthew 25:34-36

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His unsleeping watchfulness

"You are the God who sees me!" Genesis 16:13

Go where we may, we cannot get away from the calm, clear gaze of the Divine Eye! Neither in the blue depths of the heavens, nor in the dark abysses of the grave can we hide away from God. If we could take the morning sunbeams for wings and fly away on them with all the swiftness of light to the remotest bounds of space we could not get beyond the reach of the Divine Eye. If we creep into the darkness, darkness so deep and dense that no human eye can behold us still God sees us as clearly as if we stood in the bright noon-day sunshine! Darkness hides not from Him. Night shines to His eye, as brightly as day.
When we know that God loves us, there is infinite comfort in this thought of His unsleeping watchfulness. It is our Father who watches us! There ought also to be wondrous incitement and inspiration in this consciousness while the Eye of divine love is looking upon us, we should always strive to be pleasing to Him in all things!
"If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast! If I say, 'Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,' even the darkness will not be dark to You; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to You!" Psalm 139:9-12

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Forgetfulness is a false refuge!

"You have sinned against the Lord; and be sure your sin will find you out!" Numbers 32:23

"Surely, I will never forget the wicked things you have done!" Amos 8:7

If you owe a man some money, you may forget the fact but the debt remains! Forgetting it, does not pay it.

Just so, you may forget your old sin debts to God. They may cause you no more pain. But they are there yet, unsettled, and some day they will find you out. Some day the remembrance will come back with terrible vividness, "Son, remember!" said Abraham, in the Lord's parable to the rich man, and then recalled to him the story of his earthly life.

Memory does not perish in the life beyond. It revives. You may write with lemon-juice page after page, and no trace is left. The writing sinks away and disappears. But expose the paper to the heat and every letter will come out in bold, clear outline.

Just so do we write our life's record. We see no trace, and all seems lost and forgotten. But some day, every word and act and thought will flash out. Nothing that we do, fails to be recorded. In the judgment day, all will be brought out. Forgetfulness is a false refuge!

"Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account!" Hebrews 4:13

"He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts!" 1 Corinthians 4:5

"But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment!" Matthew 12:36

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The contracting walls

There was a mediaeval dungeon of singular construction. When the prisoner first entered it it seemed very bright and pleasant. It had a cheerful appearance. But in three or four days, he saw that the walls, which were of iron, were slowly contracting. On oiled hinges and in silent grooves, the metal plates were ever drawing nearer and nearer to each other.

By and by the prisoner could hardly breathe. Then the place was too small for him to lie down in. The next day, there was only room for him to stand. Now he put his hands frantically against the iron walls to keep them from crushing him. But all was in vain. The walls silently and remorselessly closed upon him.
In the same way, your years are the walls of just such a prison. They are bright and beautiful to you. But each day the prison is contracting, its walls are narrowing around you. With every pulse-beat, the iron walls draw closer and closer around your soul.

The only refuge from this prison, is Christ. Without Christ, life means nothing but illusion and disappointment, ending in death and eternal damnation. Christ is the door into liberty, into blessedness, into joy, into Heaven!

"For the wages of sin is death" Romans 6:23

"I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved!" John 10:9

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You understand my little parable

In the bottom of a lake, a slender blade of green pushed its way up through the ooze and mud. By and by it touched the surface. The sunshine warmed it, and its leaves spread out on the water. Then came a fair, sweet morning when the bud opened and became a flower and lay on the lake as white and stainless as a snowflake, and its fragrance was sweeter than any perfume.

The lily was very glad, but soon it began to sigh: "I am very sweet and beautiful but why am I out in this lonely place where no one comes to see me and admire me?"

Then that very day a poet came and saw the lily, and was inspired by it to write a sweet song which went forth in a book and sang itself into many a heart.

The next day an artist came that way, and when he saw the flower he made a sketch of it, and in his studio in the city, he painted it, and hundreds saw his picture and caught a thought of purity from it. The lily was blessing the world, though it lay there in such obscurity.
Still it sighed, "I am of no use here, though I am so lovely. Ugly weeds sometimes heal the sick but I am doing no good."

Then another visitor came that way. He was neither poet nor artist, but in his eyes, there was a soft tenderness which told of a loving heart. He bent down and plucked the lily. A shudder ran through it as it felt itself torn up by the root, and lifted out of the water and it fainted away. By and by it awoke, and now it was in a long, narrow room with rows of beds, and in every bed a sick child. As the flower opened, the children's eyes turned toward it in wonder, and its perfume poured out and filled the ward. The lily at last had found its place of usefulness and blessing, through sacrifice and death. It had been torn up by the roots, to become a blessing in the children's ward.
You understand my little parable. Many a life grows up in some obscure place, and sighs because of the gloom and the hard circumstances. But at length, it bursts into beauty, overcoming the hindrances, like the lily on the water. Yet it sighs because no one sees its loveliness. It longs to be of use. Then one catches a glimpse of the fair young life and goes away to live more purely, more unselfishly. Still rises from the heart, the sigh to do some larger work. God hears the sigh, and the lovely life is transplanted perhaps into some place of service where the beauty will be a blessing to weary ones, and where the gentle hands will minister to pain or sorrow; or perhaps to a place where the alabaster box of love must needs be broken, to fill a home or a community with its fragrance. There are many consecrated lives whose sigh and prayer for usefulness, have led to missions of self-sacrifice.

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Some secret sin has long been eating its way to the heart

"You have placed our iniquities before You our secret sins in the light of Your presence." Psalm 90:8

It does not take a rifle-bullet to destroy a life. Men have died from little pin-wounds.

Some shepherds once saw an eagle soar out from a crag. It flew majestically far up into the sky, but by and by became unsteady in its motions, and began to waver in its flight. At length one wing drooped and then the other, and the poor bird struggled vainly for a moment, and then fell swiftly to the ground. The shepherds sought the fallen bird, and found that a little serpent had fastened itself upon it while it rested on the crag. The eagle did not know that the serpent was there. But the reptile gnawed in through the feathers, and while the proud monarch was sweeping through the air, the serpent's fangs were thrust into its flesh, and the eagle came reeling down into the dust.
This illustrates the story of many a human life. For a time they seem quite promising; then suddenly they struggle and fall. Some secret sin has long been eating its way to the heart, and at last the proud life lies soiled and dishonored in the dust!

We need to be ever on our watch against these treacherous and insidious perils, these little, secret sins which, unperceived, work death in the soul.

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The faithfulness which Christ requires

Christ never asks for anything we which we are not able to do. But let us not forget, that He always expects and requires of each of us, the best we can do. The faithfulness Christ wants and approves, implies the doing of all our work, our business, our trade, our daily toil as well as we can. Let no one think that Christianity does not apply to the mundane duties of life. It applies to the way you do your most common work just as really as to your praying and keeping of the commandments. Whatever your duty is, you cannot be altogether faithful to God, unless you do your best. To slur any task, is to do God's work badly. To neglect it, is to rob God.
The faithfulness which Christ requires, must reach to everything we do. It impacts the way . . .
the child learns his lessons and recites them,
the dressmaker and the tailor sew their seams,
the blacksmith welds the iron and shoes the horse,
the plumber puts in his pipes,
the way the carpenter builds the house,
the clerk represents the goods, and measures or weighs them.

How soon genuine would Christian living put a stop to all dishonesty, all fraud, all skimping, all false weights and measures, all shams, all neglects of duty if this lesson were only learned and practiced everywhere!

"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might!" Ecclesiastes 9:10

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do do it all for the glory of God!" 1 Corinthians 10:31

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They only think of amusements and entertainments

Some people seem never to have any serious thoughts of life. They only think of amusements and entertainments, and never get beyond the airy surface of things. But to one who thinks deeply, life is not all a round of selfish and empty pleasures.

A traveler who tarried several days at Antwerp, describes the effect which the bells in the great tower had upon him. Every quarter hour they rang out on the air their sweet notes, in soft melody, which fell like a delicious rain of music dropping from the heavens, as tender and holy as the song of angels. Then at the full hour, amid their shower of liquid notes of silver, there rang out the solemn strokes of the great bell, with iron tongue, deep and heavy; and these heavy tones inspired him with a feeling of awe. As he listened, hour after hour, to the chime the tender melody of the smaller, sweeter bells reminded him of the mercy and love of God; and the solemn undertones that broke on his ear at the end of each full hour, spoke of the solemn themes of justice, judgment, eternity.
So it is, that every thoughtful person is impressed in reading the Scriptures. Their usual tone is mercy. Love rings everywhere, like the notes of angels' songs. But here and there, amid the words of divine tenderness comes some deep note, telling of justice, of wrath against sin, of the dreadful judgment day.

It is the same in life. The flow of the common days is gladness. There is music everywhere. Flowers' bloom. Love lights its lamp in our path. Then suddenly there breaks in, amid the merry laughter, a tone deep and solemn, which fills us with awe.

Life is not all gaiety. Even now, its undertone is serious. We should be thoughtful. Eternity lies close to time. The momentous things of judgment, are hidden only by a thin veil of mist.

"It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment!" Hebrews 9:27

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The mark of healthy spiritual life

"As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God!" Psalm 42:1-2

Hunger is a mark of health, and the lack of appetite proclaims disease. The cessation of the desire for knowledge, shows that intellectual growth has ended.

Just so, in spiritual life, dissatisfaction is the token of health. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness." Blessed are the unsatisfied. Blessed are those who long for more and more. The mark of healthy spiritual life, is an intense thirst for God, and a deep, passionate yearning for closer, fuller, richer, more satisfying communion with Christ Himself. The ideal Christian life is one of insatiable thirst, of unquenchable yearning, of divine discontent, wooed ever on by visions of an increase in spiritual life, new joy, new attainments in Christlikeness. The best thing in us, is never what we now are, what we have already reached but the longing for that which is yet higher and better.

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:12-14

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An easy, self-indulgent life

And He was saying to them all: If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me." Luke 9:23

We cannot live a life that will please Christ without great cost to ourselves. It is never an easy thing, to be a disciple of Christ. An easy, self-indulgent life can never be a Christ-like life.

It was not easy for Christ to redeem the world. From beginning to end of His earthly ministry, He poured out His own precious life. The people thronged about Him with their sins, their sorrows, and their needs and virtue went out of Him continually to heal them, to comfort them, to feed their heart-hunger. He utterly forgot Himself and gave His life and love without stint to every one who asked. At last He literally gave Himself, emptying out His heart's blood to give eternal life to sinful and dead souls.

His sufferings were finished, when he bowed His head on the cross.

It is now our privilege to suffer for Him to perpetuate the self-sacrificial love of Christ on this earth. Only in so far as we do this, are we living a life that will please Him.

"I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death!" Philippians 3:10

"Anyone who does not take his cross and follow Me, is not worthy of Me." Matthew 10:38

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The best antidote against the debasing influences of sin

We can best fight the world's evil, not by trying to shut it out of our life, or ward it off but by having our heart so full of the love of Jesus, that the power of the evil will be more than counter-balanced.

In the old legend, the sirens sang so sweetly that all who sailed near their home in the sea, were fascinated, and drawn to their shore only to be destroyed! Some tried to get safely past the enchanted spot, by putting wax in their ears, so that they would not hear the alluring, bewitching strains. But Orpheus, when he came, found a better way. He made music on his own ship which surpassed in sweetness that of the sirens and thus their strains had no power over his men.
Just so, the best way to break the charm of this world's alluring voices, is not to try to shut out the music by stopping up our ears but to have our heart so filled with the sweeter music of the joy of Christ. Then temptation will not have power over us, because there is a mightier power within us. A deep love for Christ, is the best antidote against the debasing influences of sin. Being filled with Christ, is the best protection against evil.

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly!" Colossians 3:16

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They sit oblivious of their peril

There is a picture of an artist sitting on an ocean rock which had been left bare by the retreating waves. There he sat, sketching on his canvas the beautiful things which filled his vision sky, earth, and sea all unconscious that the tide had turned, and was rising, and had cut him off already from the shore, and was rapidly covering the rock on which he sat. He was utterly oblivious of the tempest, the waves, the rising sea so absorbed was he in his picture. Even the cries of his friends, as they shouted to him from the shore, were unheard.
Just so do men grow absorbed in the baubles of this world, and perceive not the tides of judgment rolling on, nor hear the calls of friends warning them of their peril. They are aware of no danger. They hear not the rushing of the angry waters. They see not the tokens of death's approach. They sit oblivious of their peril until the peril has swallowed them up!

We are very foolish if we lose our eternal soul in the intensity of our quest after the trinkets this poor fleeting world.

"For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?" Mark 8:36

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It is all for God's eye

"Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men" Ephesians 6:7

All work is for God, in a certain sense. We do our business for Him. We keep house for him. We drive the team of horses, or run the engine, or keep the books, or sell the goods, or carry the mail, or sew the seams, or build the house for Him. Hence we must do honest and good work always, whatever our occupation. It is all for God's eye.

Yet it is true that besides what we call our week-day work, all of us have special work to do for God our "Father's business." We are in this world for Christ.  Part of our duty, in addition to our secular affairs is to do good in the ways that our divine Master may indicate, to perform the tasks of love and service which He may allot to us.

All of our busy days, for example, we are to be gentle, kindly, patient, and Christly to everyone whose life touches ours. In the heaviest pressure of our task-work, we must never fail to do the kindness that we are called to do. We must never be too much occupied in this world's affairs, to do the part of the good Samaritan, if by our path we find a wounded brother. We must get into every one of our days, some work for Christ. We all remember the story of the king who counted that day lost, in which some other life had not been made happier by him.

That day is lost in a Christian's life, which has no record of blessing to the world, and glory to God. 

"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31

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Some of us like that eagle

"Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles!" Isaiah 40:31

A gentleman had an eagle which had been caught when young, and brought up in a cage like a domestic bird. At length the owner was going away over the sea, and decided to give the eagle its freedom. So he brought it out of its cage, and it walked about, but seemed to have no thought whatever of flying away. The gentleman was disappointed. At length he lifted the great bird to the garden wall. It stood there a moment, and then looked up toward the sun. It seemed suddenly to remember that it was an eagle, whose home was amid the crags and the cliffs. A moment more and it lifted one wing, then the other, and was gone soaring away into the blue of the sky.
Some of us like that eagle, shut up in the cage, using only its feet, not knowing it had wings, and that its true home was in the heavens. Let us lift up our eyes to the hills there is our home. We were made for God. Let us try our soul's wings; we were made to fly. It is a desecration of life to live amid the dust when we were created for flights in the blue heavens!

"Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things!" Colossians 3:1-2

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God can take the most sin-soiled soul

Queen Victoria stopped one day at a paper-mill near Windsor Castle, and was shown through it by the foreman; he did not know who she was, as she was alone and was plainly dressed. The queen was intensely interested in every process of the paper-maker's art. She was conducted at last to a place where a number of rag-pickers were emptying out the dirty rags which they had gathered from the gutters and alleys of the great city. There was a large pile of these filthy, blackened rags, which looked as if they never could be made clean. The queen asked the foreman what he would do with these. To her amazement, he told her that he would make them into the finest, whitest paper.

When the queen had gone, the foreman learned who she was. Some days after, there was received at the palace, a package of the purest, most delicate paper, having the queen's likeness stamped upon it, with a note from the foreman of the mill, telling her that this paper was made from the very rags she had seen on the occasion of her visit!
So it is, that the Holy Spirit takes human lives, ruined and blackened by sin, makes them whiter than snow, and stamps upon them the image of Jesus the divine likeness. No life is hopeless in its ruin, which the transforming grace of God renews.

God can take the most sin-soiled soul and give to it radiant beauty!

"By the grace of God I am what I am!" 1 Corinthians 15:10

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Behold the image of the Lord Jesus!

"He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church." 1 Corinthians 4:17

We should so live, that those who know us, shall recognize the unmistakable lineaments of Christ in us.

Retzsch, a German sculptor, made a wonderful statue of the Redeemer. For eight years it was his dream by night, and his thought by day. He first made a clay model, and set it before a child of five or six years old. There were none of the usual emblematic marks designating the Savior about the figure no cross, no crown of thorns, nothing by which to identify it. Yet when the child was asked who it was she replied that it was the Lord Jesus.

This was a wonderful triumph of art, this putting so much divinity into the face of the model, that even a little child recognized the artist's thought.

Just so, we should exhibit in our life and character, such a reproduction of the holiness and beauty of Christ, that everyone who looks upon us and sees our life, may instinctively recognize the features of the Master, and say, "Behold the image of the Lord Jesus!" There is no other way of magnifying the Lord, which so witnesses to the world.

"Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious!" 1 Peter 3:1-4

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Our refuge is in the very heart of God

"Let us fall into the hands of the LORD, for His mercy is great!" 2 Samuel 24:14

There is a story of a man who dreams he is out in an open field in a fierce, driving storm. He is wildly seeking a refuge.

He sees one gate over which HOLINESS is written. There seems to be shelter inside, and he knocks. The door is opened by one in white garments, but none, except the holy, can be admitted and he is not holy. So he hurries on to seek shelter elsewhere.

He sees another gate and tries that, but TRUTH is inscribed above it, and he is not fit to enter.

He hastens on to a third gate, which is the palace of JUSTICE; but armed sentinels keep the door, and only the righteous can be received.

At last, when he is almost in despair, he sees a light shining some distance away, and hastens toward it. The door stands wide open, and beautiful angels meet him with welcomes of joy. It is the house of MERCY, and he is taken in and finds refuge from the storm, and is hospitably entertained.
None of us can ever find a refuge at any door, but at the door of mercy. But here the vilest sinner can find eternal shelter; and not mere colCd shelter only, for God's mercy is tender. We flee for refuge and find it. Strong walls shut out all pursuing enemies, and cover us from all storms!

Then, as we begin to rejoice in our security, we learn that we are inside a sweet home, and not merely in a secure shelter. Our refuge is in the very heart of God; and no mother's bosom was ever so warm a nest for her own child as is the divine mercy for all who find refuge in it!

"The LORD is longsuffering and abundant in mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression" Numbers 14:18

"For as the heavens are high above the earth so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him!" Psalm 103:11

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The soul that is bent in the most hideous deformity!

"A woman was there who had been crippled by an evil spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over, and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, He called her forward and said to her, 'Woman, you are set free from your infirmity!' Then He put His hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God!" Luke 13:11-13

In the Dore Gallery in London there is a picture, the foreground of which consists of groups of people, rich and poor, young and old, kings and beggars all turning beseeching looks upon a far-away figure. It is the Savior, clothed in robes of dazzling whiteness, bearing a cross, with a hand uplifted, beckoning all these broken-hearted ones, captives and sorrow-laden ones to come to Him for rest.

That is always a true picture of Christ. He is saying to every soul bowed down, "You are set free! I care not what the bonds are that bind you. I care not how deformed your life is, how bent, how crooked. I care not what it may have been which has bowed you down, nor how long you may have bent over I say to you, there is One who can loosen your chains and make you straight!"

He who by word and touch made a crooked, stiffened body erect and lithe, lifting the face from its downward gazing to look up into the face divine can do the same for the soul that is bent in the most hideous deformity!

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There is nothing here, but a bit of glass

One of the most wonderful diamonds in the world is the 'Mountain of Light'. It now belongs to England, but originally came from India. The gem was put into the hands of Lord John Lawrence for safe keeping. Half unconsciously, Lord John thrust the diamond, which lay in a little box, into his waistcoat pocket. Burdened with many cares, he forgot all about the precious stone.

Six months afterward, there came a message from the Queen ordering that the great jewel be sent to her at once. Then Lord John remembered that the gem had been given to him and also his carelessness. Summoning his servant, he asked him if he had found a little parcel some months before, in one of his pockets. With great anxiety Lord John awaited the man's answer, "Yes, Sir, I found it and put it in one of your dressers." Lord John bade him bring it, and the servant brought the little box. Fold after fold of wrappings was removed, and there lay the wondrous diamond shining like the sun.
The old servant was utterly unconscious of the immense treasure he held in his hands. "There is nothing here, but a bit of glass," he said. Then Lord John told him of its value, and most carefully was the gem guarded until the Queen herself laid it among the jewels of her crown.
There is in the possession of each one of us, a far more precious and costly gem than the 'Mountain of Light'. What are we doing with our soul? Are we treating it as if it were of no value? Are we, like Lord John, wrapping it up in the folds of neglect and overlooking it altogether, while we are busy with other things?

"For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his soul?" Mark 8:36

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For the Master's sake!

It is said that Leonardo da Vinci, while still a pupil, and before his genius burst into beauty and brilliancy, received a special inspiration and development in the following way: His old and famous master, feeling obliged to suspend his own labors by his increasing infirmities, bade Da Vinci to complete for him a picture which he had begun, and to do his best. The young man had such a reverence for his master's skill that he shrank from the task; but to every objection, the artist replied simply, "Do your best."

At last Da Vinci tremblingly seized the brush, and kneeling before the easel, prayed: "It is for the sake of my beloved master, that I beg for skill and power for this undertaking." As he proceeded, his hand grew steady, his eye awoke with slumbering genius; he forgot himself and was filled with enthusiasm for his work. When all was done, his master was carried into the studio to pass judgment on the result. It was a triumph of art on which his eye fell, and, throwing his arms about the young artist, he exclaimed, "My son, I shall paint no more!"

So should it be with every Christian who stands in awe of the work to which his Master calls him. Let him kneel reverently before the task assigned to him, and pray for the beloved Master's sake, for skill and ability; and then let him "do his best."

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The lily

You have seen a lily floating in the black, sullied waters of a foul bog in the country. All about it are pollution and impurity; but amid all the vileness, the lily is as pure as the white snowflakes which fall from the winter clouds. It floats on the surface of the polluted waters, but never takes a stain of the pollution. It ever holds up its pure face toward God's blue sky, and pours its fragrance all around it.

Just so, it is possible for a true Christian to live in this sinful world, keeping his soul unsullied, and breathing out the fragrance of Christ!

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this . . . to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27

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Old war veterans

"You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved!" Matthew 10:22

After a patriotic war, it is not the soldiers that return unhurt, unscarred, who are looked upon with the highest honor but those who bear the marks of battle. When an army marches back from a victorious field, it is not the bright, clean, untorn flag that is most wildly cheered but the flag that is pierced, riddled, and torn by the shot and shell of many a battle.
So, in the home-coming in glory, it will not be the man who bears the fewest marks of suffering and struggle, and the fewest scars of wounds received in Christ's service, who will be welcomed with the greatest joy but the man who carries the marks of the sorest conflicts, and the greatest sufferings for the honor of his Lord and for his kingdom.

Old war veterans are not ashamed of their scars they are insignia of honor; they tell of wounds received in battling for their country.

Just so, in Heaven the soldier of Christ will not be ashamed of the scars he has gotten in his warfare for his Lord on the earth; his crown will be all the brighter for them. Then we shall see that it has been no misfortune that we have had to fight great battles on this earth.

"To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with Me on My throne!" Revelation 3:21

"He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son!" Revelation 21:7

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Standing beside the coffin of her beloved husband

"For we walk by faith, not by sight." 2 Corinthians 5:7

God's will is always the best, because it is always directed by divine love.

A stricken wife, standing beside the coffin of her beloved husband, said to a friend: "There lies my husband, my only earthly support, my most faithful human friend, one who has never once failed me. But I must not forget that there lies also the will of God, and that that will is directed by perfect love."

She was right. It was only by faith that she saw the good and the blessedness, in what appeared to her the wreck of all her happiness. But truly the good and the blessedness are in every dark providence which comes into the life of God's child. We need to always remember, that our Father never means us harm in anything he does or permits. His assurance is, "I know the thoughts that I think toward you , . . thoughts of peace." His will for us is always directed by love, though it has the form of darkness and pain.

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

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The legend of the Golden Palace

In India they tell the legend of the Golden Palace. Sultan Ahmed was a great king. He sent Yakoob, the most skillful of his builders, with vast sums of money, to erect the most splendid palace ever seen, in the mountains. Yakoob went to the place, and found a great famine among the people, and many of them dying. He took all his own money, and the money given him by the king, to build the palace and gave it to feed the starving people.
Ahmed came at length to see his palace, but there was none there. He sent for Yakoob and learned his story, but was very angry and cast him into prison. "Tomorrow you shall die," he said, "for you have robbed the king!" But that night Ahmed had a dream. There came to him one who said: "Follow me." Up from the earth they soared, until they were at heaven's gate. They entered, and lo! there stood a palace of pure gold, more brilliant than the sun, and vaster far than any palace of earth.
"What palace is this?" asked Ahmed; and his guide answered: "This is the palace of Merciful Deeds, built for you by Yakoob, the wise. Its glory shall endure when all earth's things have passed away." Then the king understood that Yakoob had done most wisely with his money.
This legend has its lesson of truth. The life thrown away on earth for Christ, spent in His cause, wasted in loving service for Him, though it seems to leave no monument, though it receives no honor in this world is laying up treasure, honor, reward, and blessedness, in the unseen world!

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal." Matthew 6:19-21

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Beyond the sorrow

In a lovely Swiss valley, there is a cascade which is caught by the swift winds as it pours over the edge of the rock, and scattered so that the falling stream is lost, and only a wreath of whirling spray is seen in the air. But farther down the valley the stream gathers itself back again, and pours along in full current, in quiet peace, as if it had never been so crudely smitten by the wind. Even the blast that scatters it for a time, and seems to destroy it altogether really makes it all the lovelier as it whirls its crystal drops into the air. At no other point in all its course, is the stream so beautiful.
Just so, there are Christian lives which seem to be utterly destroyed by some great and sore trial. But beyond the sorrow, they move on again in calmer, fuller strength not destroyed, not a particle of their real life wasted. And in the trial itself, through the grace of Christ, their character shines out in richer luster and rarer splendor, than ever in the days when their hearts were fullest of joy and gladness.

"God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it!" Hebrews 12:10-11

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What God has prepared for those who love Him!

The old rabbis say that when the famine came in Egypt, and the storehouses were opened, Joseph threw the chaff of the grain upon the Nile, that it might float down upon the river and show those who lived below that there was an abundance of provision laid up for them, farther up the river.
Just so, the blessings of the divine grace which we enjoy in this world, are little more than the husks of the heavenly good things, sent down on the river of divine grace, as revealings and foretastes and intimations of what is in store for us in Heaven. The peace which we get here on earth is very sweet; but it is only a faint image and prophecy of Heavenly peace. The joy the Christian has on earth is deep and rich; but it is only the beginning of what he shall experience in glory. Heaven's life is infinitely deeper and richer than this world's. The fellowship with Jesus of earth is very precious as we turn over the Bible pages and ponder its words, or sit at the Lord's Table; but it is only the faint shadow of the blessed and perfect fellowship of Heaven, when we shall see Jesus as He is, and be eternally satisfied.
"No eye has seen,
 no ear has heard, and
 no mind has imagined
 what God has prepared for those who love Him!" 1 Corinthians 2:9

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A legend of St. Francis

There is a legend of St. Francis, which says that once as he was journeying he lifted his eyes and saw a multitude of birds. He said to his companions, "Wait for me here while I preach to my little sisters, the birds." The birds gathered around him while he spoke to them words like these: "My little sisters, the birds, you owe much to God, your Creator, and ought to sing His praise at all times, and in all places, because He has given you liberty and the air to fly about in; and though you neither spin nor sew, He has given you a covering for your bodies. He feeds you, though you neither sow nor reap. He has given you fountains and rivers in which to quench your thirst, and trees in which to build your nests. Beware, my little sisters, of the sin of ingratitude, and study always to praise the Lord."

As he preached to them, the birds opened their beaks, stretched out their necks, flapped their wings, and bowed their heads to the earth. When the sermon was over, they flew up into the air, singing sweetly their song of praise, and dispersed toward the four quarters of the world, as if to carry everywhere the words they had heard.
Are we not better than the birds? Have we not more to be thankful for than they have? God is not the birds' Father He is our Father. Christ did not die for the birds He did die for us. Let us, too, beware of the sin of ingratitude, and live to praise God.

"Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything" Ephesians 5:19-20

"Let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name." Hebrews 13:15

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The story of every Christian's life's mysteries

A man tells of a day in the Alps. The morning was cold, foggy, and threatening, and the people told him as he set out, that the mountain would not unveil her glory in such a day, and that he had better not climb it. Yet he went on, through mist and rain. He met tourists coming down disappointed because they had seen nothing. They urged him to turn back, but he would not do it. Up and up he still climbed, and at last the fog suddenly cleared, and the whole system of glorious mountains revealed themselves.
That is the story of every Christian's life's mysteries rain, fog, darkness, for a time and then light and blue sky, and splendor of glory! "What I do," said the Master, "you know not now but you shall know hereafter." Perfect, unquestioning trust, is the way to peace. Do not wait to see do not ask to see but believe in God and be at peace.

"For we walk by faith, not by sight." 2 Corinthians 5:7

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Are you living only for this poor world?

"This world in its present form is passing away!" 1 Corinthians 7:31

There is a picture which represents worldly ambition. A young man is riding a swift and powerful steed. His mantle is flying behind him in the wind. His face is aglow with eager desire and anticipation. His eyes flash. He is consumed with eagerness as he seeks to grasp the prize. Before him rolls a ball of gold, on a narrow way. It is this that the young man is pursuing. On either side of the narrow path is a steep precipice, into which a stumble or a misstep may plunge horse and rider. Beneath the feet of the flying steed, lies the prostrate form of virtue, over which the youth has ridden in his mad chase. Behind, his bony hand extended toward the rider is the shadowy skeleton form of death, coming in swift pursuit.
The goal of worldly ambition ahead,
  death in pursuit,
  virtue trampled underfoot,
  danger on either hand
  these are the elements of the picture.
Is not the picture true in its delineation of the life of most people? Do you say that it is too tragic? Nothing that art can do, could overstate the real tragicalness of millions of lives in this world. Made for immortality men live as though death ended all, as though the grave's darkness were the close of their existence.

Tragic? What are you living for? What are your primary aims? Where is your goal in life? Where is your eye fixed? What place has the endless hereafter in your hopes and plans, or as a force in your life? Are you living only for this poor world? 

"The world is passing away, and also its lusts!" 1 John 2:17

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Which is wiser?

There are two ways of meeting hard conditions of life, and experiences of trial and pain. Here is a lesson from two birds. One bird put into a cage tries in every way to escape. It flies against the wires and struggles and beats its prison walls; but it only hurts itself, bruises its body and batters its wings until they bleed. It accomplishes nothing by all its struggles. But a canary bird when put into a cage perches quietly on the bar and sings. It accepts its condition, and makes the best of it.
These two birds show two ways of meeting hindrances or limitations of any kind. Some people resist and struggle against everything which shuts them in, however useless and hopeless resistance and struggle are but they only hurt themselves and do not break down the walls. Others accept whatever is inevitable as the will of God for them, and sweetly and quietly submit to it, singing with gladness in their heart. Which is wiser?

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Ahmed and Omar

There is an Oriental story of two brothers, Ahmed and Omar. Each wished to perform a deed whose memory should not fail, but which, as the years rolled on, might sound his name and praise far abroad. Omar, with wedge and rope, lifted a great obelisk on its base, carving its form in beautiful devices, and sculpturing many a strange inscription on its sides. He left it to stand in the hot desert to cope with its gales his life's monument. But Ahmed, with deeper wisdom and truer heart, dug a well to cheer the sandy wasteland, and planted around it, tall date and palm trees to make cool shade for the thirsty pilgrim, and to supply fruit for him.
These two deeds illustrate two different ways in which we may live.

We may think of self and worldly success and fame, living to gather a fortune or to make a splendid name.

Or we may make our life like a well in the desert, with cool shade about it, to give drink to the thirsty, and shelter and refreshment to the weary and faint.

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The only way to have a pure and noble life

A lady lost a little daughter, her only child. Her sorrow was very great, and to keep her hands busied in something about the child, she took a photograph of her that she had, and with rare skill painted it until the sweet face seemed to live before her eyes. When the work was completed, she laid the picture away in a drawer. In a few days she looked at it again, and it was covered with ugly blotches. The eyes and the features were sadly marred.

Again, with loving patience, she went over the photograph with her brush until it was as beautiful as before, with all the fascination of life. Then she laid it away again, but when she went to it, she found it a second time covered with marring spots. It was altogether ruined.

There was something wrong with the paper. Some chemical ingredient in it, mingling with the paint, produced the spots. No matter how beautiful the picture was made on its surface up ever out of the heart of the paper, would come the ooze of decay, spoiling it all.
So it is with human lives. While the heart is wrong it is no use to try to make the character right. Evermore up out of the evil heart comes the pollution of sin, and spots and blotches everything! The only way to have a pure and noble life is by having a clean, holy heart.

"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances." Ezekiel 36:26-27

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When the long night of painful, weary toil is over

The ancient Passover was but a prophecy of something better Christ our Passover lamb is sacrificed for us. Just so, the Lord's Supper is but the picture of something which will be infinitely better being with Christ Himself. Look forward, then, ever to the heavenly blessedness"

"Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore" John 21:4. After the night's toil of the disciples on the sea, our Lord had a meal ready for them on the shore. Just so, He gives us these precious meals along the way, feeding us with His love. How sweet it is when we are weary with toil, or with sorrow, or with struggle, or with disappointment to find a fire of coals burning, and fish laid thereon, and bread all made ready for us, by a Savior's thoughtful love.
But that is not the best. When the long night of painful, weary toil is over, and we come near the shore, and the morning begins to break we shall see the blessed form of Jesus standing on the heavenly side, watching for us, waiting to receive us. And when we reach the shore, we shall find there ready for us a feast of heavenly gladness. Earth's communions, as sweet as they are, are not the best that we shall have. We shall sit down at the "marriage supper of the Lamb" by and by, and that will be best; for it will be eternal blessedness!

"Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!" Revelation 19:9

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"Can these bones live?" Ezekiel 37:3

A skillful gardener passing along a street, saw a root which had been thrown out of a garden. It seemed worthless. It had even been in the fire and was blackened and burnt. But the gardener thought there might yet be a little life in it, and he saw a vision of the beautiful vine which might yet spring from this brand plucked from the burning. So he took it with him and planted it and it grew; then he tended it with gentle care, and in due time a majestic vine, covered in the autumn with purple grapes, wreathed its festoons about the doors and windows of his house.
So it is that the Lord in His gentleness deals with sinners. There may seem not a spark of anything noble remaining in them, not a possibility of anything beautiful or good. But He takes them up and pours His love upon them and they grow into celestial beauty, and at length appear in Heaven among the glorified. No human life is hopelessly lost, when under the transforming love of God.

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The greater our troubles

A German knight wished to make a great aeolian harp, and drew wires from tower to tower of his castle. Then he listened for the music. But while it was calm and peaceful in the air, no sound came from his harp. By and by the breezes began to blow softly and gently, and he heard very faint strains, like the murmuring of sweet voices far away. At length a storm arose and swept over his castle in all its fury, and then rich and grand music came from the wires; and the louder the tempest and the fiercer the more majestic was the music of his harp.
So it should be in the Christian heart. The storm of trial, instead of hushing the melody should add to its richness. The greater our troubles, the sorer our sorrows the more should we rejoice, the louder and sweeter should be our songs!

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A little green leaf

A pilgrim was wandering, thirsty, almost famished in the desert. He had lost his bearings. He had a compass in his hand, but knew not whether its needle pointed toward a place of rest and refreshment or to a spot on which he must lie down to die. He was utterly in despair. Turn which way he would, he seemed to be wandering farther and farther away from hope.
He had sunk down in the sand, resolved to meet his fate, when a little green leaf came wafted by a passing breeze, and fell at his feet. He picked it up, and a new hope took possession of his heart. The leaf could not have come far, for it was still fresh. Where it came from there was water, with shade and food. He knew the direction, too, for the breeze had borne it to his feet. So, with the little leaf in his feverish hand, he arose and hurried away toward the spot from whence it had come. Soon he was resting in the shelter of wide-spreading branches, and quenching his thirst at the spring which flowed at the tree's roots.
Just so, there are times when our hearts are in spiritual unrest, their joy all gone. We are almost in despair, not knowing whither to turn, or what to do, to find rest. Then a little leaf flutters down to us from the Word of God. It is green and fresh. The dews of life are on it. It has not come far, and it tells of life, rest, and joy where it grew. We have but to rise out of our weariness and faintness, and hasten a little way to find the glad resting-place and shelter in the bosom of God's love.

"The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes!" Psalm 19:8

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The only refuge from Christ

"Remember, we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God!" Romans 14:10

Many years ago lived a German countess, who violently disbelieved in a future life beyond the grave. She died at thirty years of age, and gave orders that her grave should be covered with a solid slab of granite, that around it should be placed square blocks of stone, and that the corners should be fastened to each other and to the granite slab by heavy iron clamps. It was done, and on the stone was cut: "This burial-place, built to last for all eternity, must never be opened." Thus even in her grave, she defied the Almighty.

But, strange to say, a little seed sprouted under the covering, and its tiny shoot found its way between the stones, and grew there, slowly yet surely and steadily forcing itself, until the iron clamps were broken asunder, and the immense granite slab was lifted up by the growing roots. Now a great tree stands over the grave, and the stones of the casket lie against it.
No wonder the people of Hanover regard it with almost superstitious feeling, as God's answer to the terrible defiance of the young countess. Certain it is, that her grave will prove no refuge to her in the day of God's wrath. Certain it is, too, that each one of us must stand before Christ's judgment seat. And in that dread day, the only refuge will be Christ Himself. The judge will be the Lamb, the Lamb that in all His glory appears as a Lamb that has been slain. The only refuge from Christ will be the Lamb Himself!

"We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil." 2 Corinthians 5:10

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Oh love of Christ!

"I have loved you, My people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love, I have drawn you to Myself!" Jeremiah 31:3

The sunbeams come through space ninety million miles, before they touch the grasses and the flowers in the spring days, warming and quickening them into life and beauty.

Just so, through thousands of years out of eternity past, comes the love of Christ which today touches our hearts and blesses them with its divine tenderness.

Christ loved His church He loved us from eternity. This dear love of His is not a sudden warmth, a recent affection, a thing of yesterday, a fleeting emotion kindled by our love for Him.

He loved us from eternity past, and planned to redeem us.

He loved us before He left Heaven and came to earth, drawn by love of us, to save us.

He  loved us when He hung on His cross to die for us.

His love will be forever unchanging, everlasting.

Oh love of Christ, which surpasses knowledge!

"May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully!" Ephesians 3:19

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It is not more churches that we need

A lady who is always watching for beautiful things, brought from the mountain side, one autumn day, a sod of moss. She put it in her parlor, and soon in the genial warmth, there sprung out from the bosom of the moss, a multitude of sweet, delicate spring flowers. No eye had seen them before in the moss. The seeds had lain there all the summer, waiting for the warmth to bring out their lovely possibilities.
In the same way, there are many lives just like that bit of moss. Living in the chill, loveless atmosphere of the world's hard toil, its selfishness, its sorrow, unblessed by true affection the best things in them are never brought out. Yet they need only to be touched by the warmth of tender love and sympathy and beauties and graces, hitherto unsuspected, will blossom forth in them.
The world needs nothing so much today as the life and love of Christ poured through human hearts and hands upon lives that are bleak and bare. It is not more churches that we need, more societies, more monetary gifts but more living Christians, with the mind of Christ, who will go about among men and repeat the lowly blessed ministry of Christ himself, giving themselves in personal, self-forgetful service.

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You understand the parable

In the foul gutter of a city street, a drop of water lay soiled, stagnant, polluted. Far up in the depths of the sky, a gentle sunbeam saw it and pitied it in its vileness, with all its crystal beauty gone. The sunbeam flew down to the dark gutter, kissed the foul drop of water, and thrilled it with new, strange hope. Soon it felt itself quietly lifted upward by an impulse which it could not resist higher and higher through the air, and then wafted on, mile after mile. At last it lay on a mountain-top, pure and transformed a snow-flake as white as the holy beauty of heaven.
You understand the parable. Thus human souls lie polluted in earth's sins. Thus Christ's love and grace stream down and touch them in their vileness. New desires spring up, longings for holiness, hungerings and thirstings after God. They lift up their eyes unto the hills. The Holy Spirit draws them upward. At last they enter the life of Christ, then into heavenly blessedness, and at last sit down with Christ in glory washed in the Lamb's blood, and made whiter than snow!

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A statue of a stone lamb

"Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us!" 1 Corinthians 5:7

On a little church in Germany, stands a statue of a stone lamb, which has an interesting history. When some workmen were engaged on the roof of the building, one of them fell to the ground. His companions hastened down, expecting to find him killed. They were amazed, however, to see him unhurt. A lamb had been grazing just where he struck the ground, and falling upon it, the little creature was crushed to death, while the man himself escaped injury. He was so grateful for this wonderful deliverance, that he had a statue of the lamb carved in stone, and placed on the building as a memorial. The lamb saved his life, by dying in his place.
Just so, every saved soul can point to the Lamb of God, and say, "I am saved because Jesus died in my stead!" What memorial have we set up to witness to our gratitude and love?

"The Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me!" Galatians 2:20

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Where is the print of the nails?

There is a strange legend of old Martin. He sat one day, busily engaged in his sacred studies, when a knock came at the door. The door opened and there appeared a stranger of lordly look, in princely attire. "Who are you?" asked Martin, "I am Christ," was the answer. The confident bearing, and the commanding tone of the visitor, would have overawed a less wise man. But Martin simply gave his visitor one deep, searching glance, and then quietly asked, "Where is the print of the nails?"

He had noticed that this one indubitable mark of Christ's person was lacking. There were no nail-scars upon those jeweled hands. And the kingly mien and the brilliant dress of the pretender were not enough to prove his claim, while the print of the nails was lacking. Confused by this searching question, and his base deception exposed, the prince of evil for he it was quickly fled.
This is only a legend, but it suggests the one infallible test that should be applied to all truth and to all life. There is much in these days that claims to be of Christ. There are those who would have us lay aside the old Christian faith, and accept new beliefs and new interpretations. How shall we know whether or not to receive them? The only true test is that with which Martin exposed the false pretensions of his visitor, "Where is the print of the nails?" Nothing is truly of Christ, which does not bear this mark upon it. A gospel without a wounded, dying Christ is not the Christian gospel. The substitutionary atonement lies at the heart of Christianity. The cross is the luminous center, from which all the light of joy, peace, and hope streams. That which does not bear the marks of the Lord Jesus, cannot be of Him.

"I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus!" Galatians 6:17

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Carry Christ home!

Did you ever stand at the foot of a great lighthouse at night? Splendid floods of light are poured out to sea; but not one tiny little gleam of radiance, did that great lamp pour on the bit of sand close around the base of its tower.

Do not be like light-houses in this regard. Wherever else, far away or near, you pour the beams of your Christian life be sure you brighten the space close around you in your own home. Let the light of gentleness, forbearance, kindness, unselfishness, and thoughtful servanthood, fall . . .
  on your love-starved spouse,
  on your needy children,
  on your weary mother,
  on your burdened father,
  on your tempted brother,
  on the guests who drop in.

Carry Christ home, and serve Him best there!

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Then sudden death came to this noble child!

"He has done all things well!" Mark 7:37

There was a widow who had a noble daughter. The mother had had many trials. This daughter, however, had grown to be a wonderful comfort to her mother. The mother had lived for her child all the years. By dint of much toil and sacrifice, she had helped her through a long and splendid course of education. The daughter had graduated with high honors from one of the finest colleges in the land. Then she had taught two or three years, earning a little money. The daughter was full of plans for her mother's comfort, as old age was creeping on for her. She hoped in a little time to take her away from toil and care, and to reward her, in some way, for all her sacrifices and self-denials.
Then sudden death came to this noble child! The mother who had been living for her through the bright years, and who was now beginning to realize the reward of all her labors and the fruit of all her self-denial was called at midnight to go a hundred miles to look at the child of her sweet hopes, sleeping in voiceless death. Could she see the goodness of God in that strange providence? It is in such experiences as these, that faith delivers us. We cannot see but we believe that the love of God never fails. Hence we can bow our head in silence, knowing that all is well.

"You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand." John 13:7

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Was that lovely young life wasted?

Few names in modern missionary days shine with more splendor, than that of Harriet Newell. When eighteen years of age, she was asked to go to a foreign, heathen land as the wife of a missionary. It was not so easy then to go, as it is now; but she accepted the call and was soon on her way to India. She and her husband arrived at length on the heathen coast, only to remain a few weeks and to be sent away. With heavy hearts they put to sea again. The young wife was stricken with fever, and in the autumn days, at the early age of nineteen, she joyfully surrendered her life to the service of her Savior.
Thus in one short year the Christian woman became missionary, wife, mother, and was taken to Heaven. She seemed to accomplish nothing. She merely sailed away over the sea with a great love in her heart only to be exiled, to die, and to find a grave amid strangers. She taught no heathen woman; she told the story of redemption to no benighted soul. But was that lovely young life wasted? No, all this century her name has been one of the strongest inspirations to missionary work.

The story of her consecration has kindled in many other women's hearts, the flames of love, sending them to carry Christ to dark lands. God broke the alabaster casket which held her life that the fragrance might flow out over the world.
We must get the same spirit in us, if we would become in any large and true sense, a blessing to the world. We must be willing to lose our life to sacrifice self, to give up our own way, our own ease, our own comfort if we would be truly helpful to our sin-cursed world.

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It is not our part to guide our life in this world

Way down in the heart of the great steamer, the engineer stands. He never sees how the vessel moves. He does not know where she is going. It is not his duty to know. It is his duty only to answer every signal, to quicken or slow its motion, to reverse it just as he is directed by the one whose part it is to navigate the vessel. He has nothing whatever to do with the vessel's course. He sees not an inch of the sea.
Just so, it is not our part to guide our life in this world, amid its tangled affairs. It is ours just to do our duty our Master's bidding. Christ's hand is on the helm. He sees all the future. He pilots us. Let us learn to thank God, that we cannot know the future, that we need not know it. Christ knows it and it is better to go on in the dark with Him, letting Him lead than to go alone in the light, and choose our own path.

"He led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation." Psalm 107:7

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But what did you do with yesterday?

Our days are like beautiful summer fields, as God gives them to us. The minutes are lovely blooming flowers and silvery blades of grass, and stalks of wheat with their golden foliage, or vines with their blossoms prophecies of coming purple clusters. Oh, the fair possibilities of the days and hours and minutes, as they come to us from God's hands!

But what did you do with yesterday? How does the little acre of that one day, look to you now? Is it waving with beauty? Are there no waste spots in it? What did you do with the seven days of last week? How does that seven-acre field appear to you? Are there no wasted minutes, no squandered hours?

"Teach us to number our days carefully, so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts." Psalm 90:12

"Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk not as unwise people but as wise making the most of the time, because the days are evil!" Ephesians 5:15-16

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The humblest drudgery

There is dignity in all duty even in the humblest drudgery. The doing of God's will is always splendid work, though it be but washing dishes or cleaning a home.

The smallest roadside puddle has its water from heaven, and its gleam from the sun, and can hold the stars in its bosom, as well as the great ocean. Just so, the humblest duty is a bit of God's will, and shines with heavenly radiance.

This ought to be an inspiration to those who live in lowly places and can do only common task-work. Do it all well, and as God's will and no great man's brilliant deeds will shine more brightly than your little things in God's sight!

"And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is My disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward!" Matthew 10:42

"If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all!" Mark 9:35

"So the last will be first; and the first will be last." Matthew 20:16

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This is a picture of the peace in the heart of the Christian

A tourist writes of a spring as sweet as any that ever gushed from a sunny hillside, which one day he found by the sea, when the tides had ebbed away. Taking his cup he tasted the water, and it was sweet. Soon the sea came again and poured its bitter surf over the little spring, hiding it out of sight.

When the tide ebbed away again, the tourist stood once more by the spring to see if the brackish waves had left their bitterness in its waters; but they were as sweet as ever.
This is a picture of the peace in the heart of the Christian, when floods of bitter sorrow and trial roll over his life. From secret wells the sweet waters flow, as clear as crystal, and as fresh as ever. We know where these secret wells are, where these pure fountains rise. They have their source in the heart of God. It is Christ's own peace, which He gives to us. He gives us His own life. It is divine life in the soul, which makes peace for us in the time of earthly distress!

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This is the mission to which every Christian is called!

Architects make their names immortal by rearing some noble building, some great cathedral, some gorgeous palace which stands for ages to their honor.

Artists carve in marble, or paint on canvas or in fresco, the splendid creations of their genius and for centuries the world pays them homage.

The poet writes the imaginings of his brain, or the deeper thoughts of his soul and is crowned with honor.

These are noble achievements. But it is nobler far, when a young man takes his life from God, with reverence and faith and love and builds a beautiful, holy manhood for men, angels, and God to look upon through eternal years. This is the mission to which every Christian is called! Surely it is noble enough to call out the best energies of the soul. A living, holy character is infinitely greater than a cold, lifeless statue or painting!

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Here is a parable of the Christian's dying

There is a story of a hunter who fell far down into a deep gorge. After creeping along for a great distance, following a stream, he came apparently to the end of the passage. There seemed no opening further. The waters seethed and gurgled, and he knew there must be an outlet beneath the surface. He thought it might possibly lead out to some open place. He knew that to stay where he was, would be swift death. So he plunged into the waters to be carried by them in their current. For a moment there was darkness he was swept on in a wild rapid torrent. In a little time, he was through the chasm and out in the bright sunshine. He had been borne out into the lovely valley into the midst of its wondrous beauty, with flowers and bird songs all around him.
Here is a parable of the Christian's dying. There is a moment's darkness and mystery, as the spirit enters the dark valley; and then Heaven, the face of Jesus, glory, eternal life!

There is no long experience of darkness. There is no painful struggle, no groping amid sepulchral shadows, no struggle with hideous enemies. "Absent from the body at home with the Lord!" is the inspired statement of the fact of Christian dying. One moment the believer closes his eyes on earth's friends the next moment he opens them in Heaven, on the face of Jesus!

"Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is!" 1 John 3:2

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Even a cup of cold water

A poor Arab, traveling in the desert, came to a spring of pure water, and filled his leather jug to carry it to the caliph. He had to go a long way before he could present it to his sovereign. The caliph received the gift with pleasure, and pouring some of the water into a cup drank it, thanking the Arab and rewarding him. The courtiers around pressed forward, eager to taste of the wonderful water but the caliph strangely forbade them to touch a single drop. When the poor Arab had departed with a joyful heart, the caliph told his courtiers why he had forbidden them to taste the water. In the long journey, it had become impure and distasteful in the leathern bottle. But it was an offering of love, and as such, the caliph had received it with pleasure. But he knew that if any other would taste the water, he would have shown his disgust, and thus the poor man's feelings would have been wounded.
Does not this beautifully illustrate the spirit with which Christ receives the gifts and services of those who love Him? The gifts may be worthless, and the services may avail nothing; but, for the love that prompts them he accepts them with real gladness, and richly rewards them!

"And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is My disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward!" Matthew 10:42

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We need heart-peace

The people in all lines of duty who do the most work are the calmest, most unhurried people in the community. Duties never wildly chase each other in their lives. One task never crowds another out, nor ever compels hurried, and therefore imperfect, doing. The calm spirit works methodically, doing one thing at a time, and doing it well, and it therefore works swiftly, though never appearing to be in haste.
We need the peace of God in our heart just as really for the doing well of the little things of our secular life as for the doing of the greatest duties of Christ's kingdom.
Our face ought to shine, and
our spirit ought to be tranquil, and
our eye ought to be clear, and
our nerves ought to be steady
as we press through the tasks of our commonest day. Then we shall do them all well, slurring nothing, marring nothing. We need heart-peace before we begin any day's duties, and we should wait at Christ's feet before we go forth.

"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27

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The fragrance of a gentle life

Once in crossing a meadow, I came to a spot that was filled with fragrance. Yet I could see no flowers, and I wondered from whence the fragrance came. At last I found, low down, close to the ground, hidden by the tall grass, innumerable little flowers. It was from these little flowers, that the fragrance came.
In the same way, when I enter some homes, there is a rich perfume of love which pervades all the place. It may be a home of wealth and luxury or it may be plain and bare. It does not matter; it is not the house, nor the furniture, nor the adornment which makes this air of sweetness. I look closely. It is a gentle woman, mother or daughter, quiet, hiding self away, from whose life the fragrance flows. There is a wondrous charm in a gentle spirit.

The gentle girl in a home may not be beautiful, may not be well-educated, may not be musical or an artist or "clever" in any way; but wherever she moves, she leaves a blessing. Her sweet patience is never disturbed by the sharp words which fall about her. The children love her because she never tires of them. She helps them with their lessons, listens to their frets and worries, mends their broken toys, makes doll dresses, straightens out the tangles, settles their little quarrels, and finds time to play with them. When there is sickness in the home, she is the angel of comfort. Her face is always bright with the outshining of love. Her voice has music in it, as it falls in cheerful tenderness on the sufferer's ear. Her hands are wondrously gentle, as their soothing touch rests on the aching head, or as they minister in countless ways about the bed of pain.

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, let it be the inward adorning and beauty of the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God." 1 Peter 3:3-4

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We need heart-peace

The people in all lines of duty who do the most work are the calmest, most unhurried people in the community. Duties never wildly chase each other in their lives. One task never crowds another out, nor ever compels hurried, and therefore imperfect, doing. The calm spirit works methodically, doing one thing at a time, and doing it well, and it therefore works swiftly, though never appearing to be in haste.
We need the peace of God in our heart just as really for the doing well of the little things of our secular life as for the doing of the greatest duties of Christ's kingdom.
Our face ought to shine, and
our spirit ought to be tranquil, and
our eye ought to be clear, and
our nerves ought to be steady
as we press through the tasks of our commonest day. Then we shall do them all well, slurring nothing, marring nothing. We need heart-peace before we begin any day's duties, and we should wait at Christ's feet before we go forth.

"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27

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The fragrance of a gentle life

Once in crossing a meadow, I came to a spot that was filled with fragrance. Yet I could see no flowers, and I wondered from whence the fragrance came. At last I found, low down, close to the ground, hidden by the tall grass, innumerable little flowers. It was from these little flowers, that the fragrance came.
In the same way, when I enter some homes, there is a rich perfume of love which pervades all the place. It may be a home of wealth and luxury or it may be plain and bare. It does not matter; it is not the house, nor the furniture, nor the adornment which makes this air of sweetness. I look closely. It is a gentle woman, mother or daughter, quiet, hiding self away, from whose life the fragrance flows. There is a wondrous charm in a gentle spirit.

The gentle girl in a home may not be beautiful, may not be well-educated, may not be musical or an artist or "clever" in any way; but wherever she moves, she leaves a blessing. Her sweet patience is never disturbed by the sharp words which fall about her. The children love her because she never tires of them. She helps them with their lessons, listens to their frets and worries, mends their broken toys, makes doll dresses, straightens out the tangles, settles their little quarrels, and finds time to play with them. When there is sickness in the home, she is the angel of comfort. Her face is always bright with the outshining of love. Her voice has music in it, as it falls in cheerful tenderness on the sufferer's ear. Her hands are wondrously gentle, as their soothing touch rests on the aching head, or as they minister in countless ways about the bed of pain.

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, let it be the inward adorning and beauty of the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God." 1 Peter 3:3-4

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We call that obeying!

Suppose a mother gave her child a beautiful flower-plant in bloom, and told her to carry it to a sick friend. The child takes it away, and when she reaches the friend's door she plucks off one leaf and gives it to her, keeping the plant herself. Has she obeyed her mother's command?

Then afterwards, once a day, she plucks off another leaf, or a bud, or a flower, and takes it to the friend, still retaining the plant. Did she obey the command of her mother? Nothing but the giving of the whole plant could fulfill the mother's direction.
Now that a simple illustration of our obedience to Christ. He commands us to love Him with all our heart and with all our being and we pluck off a little leaf of love now and then, a little bud or flower of affection, or one cluster of fruit from the bending branches, and give to Him and we call that obeying!

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We are just like these sheep

The herbage of the present field was all eaten, and the shepherd needed to get his sheep up to a higher place where there was good pasture. The way led over a steep and rocky bluff, however, and the poor sheep would not go over it. Then the shepherd seized a lamb and carried it in his arms up the steep path to the higher ground. The little thing ran to the edge and looked down, bleating and calling for the older sheep. In a few moments the mother had gone up, and then all the flock followed her.
We are just like these sheep, and are slow to follow our Shepherd up the steep and rocky path towards the heavenly life. Then the Shepherd has to use loving urgency.
Sometimes he takes a beloved Christian to Heaven to lead his friends and relatives there.
Or he takes away a man's riches to save the man's soul.
Or he lays us on a sick-bed and shuts us away in the darkness to compel us to think of spiritual things.
Or he sends trouble in some form to get us to walk in holy paths.

If we can be saved in no other way, it is better that we lose all the flowers and the sunshine out of our life, and walk amid thorns and in darkness so that we reach our heavenly home at last.

"He led them forth by the straight and right way, that they might go to a city of habitation!" Psalm 107:7

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it!" Matthew 7:13-14

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When we come to the hard, rough, steep path

"Your shoes shall be iron and bronze. As your days, so shall your strength be!" Deuteronomy 33:25
So it is that life's dreaded experiences. When we meet them, they carry in themselves the light which takes away the peril and the terror.

The night of sorrow comes with its own lamp of comfort.

The hour of weakness brings its secret of strength.

By the brink of the bitter fountain, grows the tree whose branch will heal the waters.

The wilderness, with its hunger and no harvest, has daily manna.

In dark Gethsemane where the load is more than mortal heart can bear an angel appears ministering strength.

When we come to the hard, rough, steep path we find iron shoes.

"Your shoes shall be iron and bronze. As your days, so shall your strength be!" Deuteronomy 33:25

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The cause of Christ needs men as well

The ministry of women in Christ's cause can never be overestimated.

Women's tears are precious as they are poured out on the paths of human suffering.

Women's hands are soft and gentle as they minister in the sick room, in the hospital, in the home of poverty.

Women's words are mighty as they come welling up from the bottom of loving hearts, in pleading with lost ones.

Women's works are beautiful as they are wrought over all the world, in the name of Jesus.

Women's power is well-near omnipotent when anointed by the Holy Spirit.

Women's influence is most blessed in home and school and church.

Yet, blessed and beautiful and mighty as is the service which the women are rendering to their Lord the cause of Christ needs men as well.
Men of courage are needed to stand in the front ranks of truth, to resist and hurl back the assaults of the enemy.

Men with keen intellect are needed to meet the sophistries of error and the subtle attacks of infidelity and false teaching.

Men with fine business abilities are needed to carry on the secular affairs of God's house.

Men with wealth are needed to lay monetary gifts upon the altar to forward the interests of Christ's kingdom.

Holy men are needed to witness for Christ in the face of His enemies.

Men with eloquent tongues and burning hearts are needed to go into all the dark places of the cities, into the purlieus of vice, into the homes of sin to tell the story of the love cf God and of the cross of the Redeemer!

Men of tender heart and loving sympathy and gentle touch are needed . . .
  to give comfort to the world's sorrow,
  to help the tempted in their battles, and
  to rescue the perishing out of their bondage to sin and Satan!

"Be men of courage; be strong!" 1 Corinthians 16:13

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The beauty of Christlikeness

In one of the cathedrals in Europe, an old man carved an exquisite picture of Christ in one of the rafters.

Just so, every Christian must strive to carve an image of the beauty of Christ, on our own hearts and lives. Some of us may feel ourselves too feeble, or too unskilled, to do any great work in this world for Christ; but none are too feeble or too unskilled to carve the beauty of Christ on our life. And it may be that some trembling disciple among us, timid and shrinking, whose voice is not heard in our meetings, whose work is in some quiet corner, out of sight has wrought the beauty of Christlikeness in an exquisiteness which shall outshine all that any even of the greatest of us have done!
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Serving Christ acceptably

The bird praises God by singing.
The flower pays its tribute to God in fragrant incense as its censer swings in the breeze.
The tree shakes down precious fruit from its bending boughs.
The stars pour out their silver beams to gladden the earth.
The clouds give their blessing in gentle rain.
Yet all with equal faithfulness, fulfill their particular mission.

It is just so among Christ's redeemed servants:
one serves by incessant toil in the home, caring for a large family;
another, by silent example as a sufferer, patient and uncomplaining;
another, with the pen, sending forth words that inspire, help, cheer, and bless;
another, by the living voice, whose eloquence moves men, and inspires impulses to purer, holier living;
another, by the ministry of sweet song;
another, by sitting in quiet peace at Jesus' feet, drinking in His spirit, and then shining as a gentle and silent light, or pouring out the fragrance of love like a lowly and unconscious flower!
Yet each and all of these may be serving Christ acceptably, hearing at the close of each day the whispered word, "Well done, good and faithful servant!"

"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms." 1 Peter 4:10

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Sweet incense

In John's vision of Heaven, the redeemed are represented as having in their hands "golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of saints." The thought seems to be that earth's supplications rise up to Heaven as sweet incense that while humble believers in this world are engaged in offering up prayers and supplications holy fragrances are wafted up before God. There is an exquisite beauty in this thought, that true prayer is sweet fragrance to God.

The pleadings and supplications of His people on the earth, rise from lowly homes, from sick-rooms, from darkened chambers of grief where loved ones kneel beside their dead, from humble sanctuaries and are wafted up before God, as the breath of flowers is wafted to us in summer days from sweet fields and fragrant gardens. And God "smells the pleasing aroma." Prayer is perfume to Him!

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He was a miserable, filthy beggar, wearing rags, with villainous look

One of the most famous pictures in the world is the Last Supper, by Leonardo da Vinci. Jesus sits at the table with His twelve apostles. It is said that the artist sought long for a model for the Savior. He wanted a young man of pure, holy look. At length his attention was fixed on a chorister in the Cathedral, named Pietro Bandinelli. This young man had a very noble face and a devout demeanor. Leonardo used him as a model in painting the face of the Master.

Soon after this, Pietro went to Rome to study music. There he fell among evil companions and was led to drink, and then into all manner of debasing sins. Year after year the painter went on with his great picture.
All the apostles were now painted except one Judas, the traitor. Da Vinci went from place to place, looking for some debased man who would be suitable as a model. He was walking one day on the streets of Milan, watching the faces of the evil men he happened to meet, when his eye fell on one who seemed to have in his features, the character which he sought. He was a miserable, filthy beggar, wearing rags, with villainous look. This man sat as the artist's model for Judas.

After the face was painted, Da Vinci learned that the man who had sat for him was his old friend, Pietro Bandinelli the same who had sat a few years before as the model for the Master. Wickedness had debased the beautiful life into hideous deformity. Sin distorts, deforms, and destroys the human soul. It drags it down from its erectness, until it grovels in the dust.

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It was the old smith fighting the storm!

Men said that the old smith was foolishly over-careful as he wrought on the great chain he was making in his dingy shop in the heart of the great city. But he heeded not their words, and only wrought with greater painstaking. Link after link he fashioned, and at last the chain was finished and carried away.

In time it lay coiled on the deck of a great ship which sped back and forth on the ocean. There seemed no use for it, for the great sheet anchor was never needed, and the chain lay there uncoiled.

So years passed. But one night there was a terrible storm, and the ship was in sore peril of being hurled upon the rocks. Anchor after anchor was dropped into the wild sea, but none of them availed. The chains were broken like threads. At last the mighty sheet anchor was cast into the sea until it grew taut. All watched to see if it would bear the awful strain. It sang in the wild storm, as the vessel's weight surged upon it. It was a moment of intense anxiety. It was the old smith fighting the storm! The ship, with its cargo of a thousand lives, depended upon this one chain. What now if the old smith had wrought carelessly even on one link of his chain!
But he had put honesty and truth and invincible strength into every part of it, and it stood the test, holding the ship in safety until the storm was over, and the morning came!

"Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God!" 1 Corinthians 10:31

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Every child of God may be kept in perfect peace

"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You." Isaiah 26:3

In one of the great floods in the West, when the river broadened until it spread over the whole valley, and when trees and fences and crops and buildings were swept away, some men in a boat found among the drift and wreckage, in the middle of the wide stream, borne along in the wild torrent a baby's cradle floating. They made their way to it, and there in the cradle, warmly wrapped up in its blankets, lay the baby, sleeping as sweetly as ever it had slept on the mother's bosom.

Just so in all this world's wild turbulence, amid its enmities, its temptations, its trials and sorrows, its wants and dangers, its strifes and conflicts every child of God may be kept in perfect peace. Wherever he is, whatever his circumstances, he is really lying on the bosom of Jesus.

"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful." John 14:27

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts!" And be thankful. Colossians 3:15

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The chimes of St. Nicholas

A visitor to Amsterdam wished to hear the wonderful music of the chimes of St. Nicholas, and went up into the tower of the church to hear it. There, he found a man with wooden gloves on his hands, pounding on a keyboard. All he could hear was the clanging of the keys when struck by the wooden gloves, and the harsh, deafening noise of the bells close over his head. He wondered why people talked of the marvelous chimes of St. Nicholas. To his ear, there was no music in them, nothing but terrible clatter and clanging. Yet, all the while, the most entrancing music floated out over and beyond the city. Men in the fields paused in their work to listen, and were made glad. People in their homes, and travelers on the highway, were thrilled by the marvelous bell-notes which fell from the tower.
In the same way, there are many sweet lives which to those who dwell close beside them, seem to make no music. They pour out their strength in hard toil. They are shut up in narrow spheres. They dwell amid the noise and clatter of common task-work. They themselves think that they are not of any use, that no blessing goes out from their life. They never dream that sweet music is made anywhere in the world by their noisy hammering. But wherever godly influence goes from their lives and character human lives are blessed, and weary ones hear with gladness, sweet, comforting music. And away off in Heaven, where God listens to earth's melody, entrancing strains are heard.

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The obscurest Christian

"And He will send His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other." Matthew 24:31

The obscurest Christian
, hidden away in the lowliest or most neglected spot, will not be overlooked by the angels when they come to gather in Christ's elect ones. The place where they sleep, is well marked for the heavenly watchers. It will make no difference, either, that many of them die long before Christ Himself comes again. These will miss nothing. They will be called up in time to witness all the glory, and share in all the triumph.

So Paul tells us that we should not sorrow for the Christian dead, as those who have no hope, for "God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him;" and "the Lord Himself will come down from Heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever!"

There is only one thing that we need to concern ourselves about that we are indeed of those who have received Christ, and have been faithful to him in this life. It will not matter, in that day, whether we have been rich or poor, famous among men, or unknown and overlooked; the only determining element will be, whether or not we have followed Christ in this life.

"I am the Good Shepherd; I know My sheep and My sheep know Me!" John 10:14

"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish ever; no one can snatch them out of My hand!" John 10:27-28

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Over the coffin pitiful we stand

It is not enough to love others; we must let them know that we love them. We must do it, too, before it is too late. Some people wait until the need is past and then come up with their kindness. When the neighbor is well again they call to say how sorry they are he has been sick. When he has gotten through his sore trial they come with their offer to help. But the time to help is when your friend is in the deep floods of affliction not when he has gotten out to shore and is safe. The time for friendship is in the friend's adversity, when evil tongues malign him and not when he has gotten vindication and stands honored even by strangers.
Then there are those who wait until death has come before they begin to speak their words of love. There are many who say their first truly generous words of others when the others lie in the coffin. They then bring flowers, although they never gave a flower when their friends were alive. Gentle things which lie in the heart for many years unexpressed first find utterance in death's sadness. But it is too late then.
"Over the coffin pitiful we stand,
And place a rose within the motionless hand."

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The simplest things we do at Christ's bidding

"Fill the waterpots with water." John 2:7

Our Lord calls His people always to be helpers in blessing this world. We cannot do much. The best we can bring, is a little of the common water of earth. But if we bring that to Him, He can change it into the rich wine of Heaven, which will bless weary and fainting ones. If we take simply what we have and use it as He commands it will do good.

Moses had only a rod in his hand, but with this he wrought great wonders. The disciples had only five barley loaves but these, touched by Christ's hand, made a feast for thousands. The water carried by the servants, under the Master's blessing, became wine for the wedding. Christ passes the gifts of His love and grace, through human hands to others. We have the assurance that our most common work leaves heavenly results. No labor is in vain, which is wrought in the name of the Lord. Our commonest work amid life's trivialities, in business, in the household, which seems but like the carrying of water to be emptied out again is transformed into radiant service, and leaves glorious results behind. The simplest things we do at Christ's bidding, may become immortal blessings to other souls, or to our own.

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Our restless, perplexed lives roll in rocky channels

There are streams among the mountains which, after flowing a little way on the surface in a current, broken, vexed, and tossing, amid rocks, over cascades, through dark chasms sink away out of sight and seem to be lost. You see their flashing crystal no more. But far down the mountain, amid the sweet valley scenes, they emerge again, these same streams, and flow away, no longer tossed and restless, but quiet and peaceful as they move on toward the sea.
Just so, our restless, perplexed lives roll in rocky channels a little way on the earth, and then pass out of sight, and it seems the end; but it is not the end. Leaping through the dark cavern of the grave they will reappear, fuller, deeper, grander, on the other side, vexed and broken no longer, but realizing all the peace, joy, and beauty of Christ; and thus they will flow on forever.

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The Master's errands to His little ones

A beautiful story is told of Lady Augusta Stanley. One day when she was dressed for a reception at the queen's palace, a messenger came in great haste from one of the hospitals. A poor woman, whom Lady Stanley had often visited and comforted, was about to undergo a painful surgical operation. When the surgeons came to perform the operation and told her of it, she begged that Lady Augusta should be sent for. "If she will hold my hand," said the woman, "I can endure it." Lady Stanley was just leaving to attend upon the queen, but, throwing a cloak over her rich dress, she hastened to the hospital instead. She sat down by the poor sufferer, spoke to her a few brave, cheerful words, and then held her hand until the operation was finished.
This incident illustrates the way we should always respond to Christ's calls for ministry, to any of His little ones. No matter how busy we are, when a sufferer needs us all must be dropped, that we may go quickly on love's errand. We may be trying to get needed rest, hoping nothing will disturb us but if human sorrow or pain needs us, we must give up our rest. The Master's errands to His little ones, are always first duties. We dare not neglect them, nor can we postpone them for they cannot wait our leisure.

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My requiem

The last melody Mozart wrote was his sweetest. He had spent weeks upon it, and after giving the last touches, he fell asleep. His daughter entered at length, and her footsteps awoke him.
"Come here, my Emilie," he said, "my task is done. The requiem, my requiem, is finished."

"Say not so, my father," answered the gentle girl. "You must soon be better. Even now your cheek has a glow upon it."

"Do not deceive yourself, my child," said the dying father. "This wasted form can never be restored. Take these notes, my last notes, sit down by my piano, and sing them. Let me hear once more, those tones which have been so long my solace and my joy."

Emilie did as her father requested, and sang, in a voice enriched with tenderest emotion, the sweet requiem he had composed. Turning from the piano, she looked into her father's face for his approving smile. Instead of this, she saw the still, passionless smile which the enrapt and joyous spirit had left, with the seal of death upon the beloved features. He had soared away to the eternal world, on the wings of his own last sweet song.
In the same way, we should so live bravely, truly, obediently, unselfishly, diligently, in faith and love and prayer that the ending of our life may be a tender, immortal song, fit to bear away our spirit on its wings to the gates of blessedness.

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Christ's picture never has been lost

The old legend says that when Jesus passed on His way to Golgotha, a pious woman took off her handkerchief and gave it to Him, that with it He might wipe the blood and sweat from His face. When He gave back the cloth to her, His features had been impressed upon it a perfect portrait. The handkerchief has been lost, and artists attempt now to paint our Lord's picture from their own imagination.
But really, Christ's picture never has been lost. It never was impressed on the napkin that is but a legend. It is impressed, however, on the life of every one of His true followers, where He appears in every deed of beauty and virtue, and in every forgetting of self.

You go to the artists for the likeness of Christ; go rather to lowly Christian lives, which in love, gentleness, unselfishness, and kindly ministry reflect his beauty.

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It is only a heathen legend

In Japan they have a beautiful legend of the making of a wonderful bell. Long, long ago, the emperor wrote to the maker of bells, commanding him to cast a bell larger and more beautiful than any ever made before. He bade him put in it gold and silver and brass, that the tones might be so sweet and clear, that when hung in the palace tower, its sounds might be heard for a hundred miles. The maker of bells put gold and silver and brass in his great melting pot, but the metals would not mingle, and the bell was a failure. Again and again he tried, but in vain. Then the emperor was angry and sent an edict saying that if the bell was not made at the next trial, the bell-maker must die.
The bell-maker had a lovely daughter. She was greatly distressed for her father. Wrapping her mantle about her she went by night to the oracle and asked how she could save him. He told her that gold and brass would not mingle until the blood of a virgin was mixed with them in their fusion. Again the old maker of bells prepared to cast the bell. The daughter stood by, and at the moment of casting, she threw herself into the midst of the molten metal! The bell was made and was found to be more wonderful and perfect than any other ever made. It hangs in the great palace tower, and its sweet tones are heard for a hundred miles. The blood of sacrifice, mingling with the gold and silver, gave to the bell its matchless sweetness.
It is only a heathen legend, but its lesson is true. Our lives make no music until self dies, and our blood mingles with our offering in the altar fires of love. It is only when we lose our life for Christ that we get it back, saved and glorious.

There must always be the death of self, before a life can be Christlike.

"If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. Luke 9:23-24

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Until the flames kindled upon him!

Did you ever sit on a winter's evening before an old-fashioned open fireplace, with its blazing log of wood? As you sit there and watch the fire playing about the log, you begin to hear a soft sound, a clear musical note, perhaps; or a tender, quavering strain, plaintive and sad. It takes every tone as it sings on. Sometimes it is like a whole chorus of bird-songs; then again it dies away into a faint murmur. What is it? Are there birds hidden in the chimney, which give out these strange notes? Are there invisible spirits hovering about the room, that breathe out these plaintive strains? No, the music comes from the log in the fire. The flames bring the music out.

A poet would say that long ago in the forest, the birds sat on the branches of the tree from which this log was taken, and sang there, and the songs hid away in the wood, where they have remained ever since. Or, he would say that the winds sighed and murmured through the branches in gentle summer breezes, or swept through them in furious storms and that the music of the breezes and storms has been imprisoned in the heart of the tree all these many years. And now the fire brings out this long-slumbering music.
These are only poetic imaginations, so far as the curious music of the log on the hearth is concerned; but it is no mere imagination that the sweetest, fullest music, is not drawn out of us until in the heat of trial. The bird notes of joy which warbled about our ears in the sunny days of childhood and youth sink into the heart and hide there. The lessons, the influences, the gladness, the peace of quiet seem to have been lost. The life does not appear to yield its true measure of joyfulness. Then the fires of trial come and kindle about it, and in the flames, the long-gathered and imprisoned music is set free and flows out. Many a rejoicing Christian never learned to sing until the flames kindled upon him!

"I have refined you in the furnace of suffering!"
Isaiah 48:10

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God's clock is never too slow!

Real worth always finds its true place at length. There are some people who think they never get into the place they are fitted to fill; but usually something in the men themselves, is the secret of their failure.

It is not some happy chance which lifts men to places of honor and responsibility, nor is it piety alone. Brains are necessary for great duties as well as honesty and prayerfulness. God does not put a man into a high position, merely because he is a good man. The man must have abilities; and if he has and is a true man the Lord will put him to use. Let young men make themselves ready for positions of trust, and they will be called to the higher positions at the right time. God's clock is never too slow!
"Well done, My good servant! Because you have been faithful and trustworthy in a very little thing, you shall have authority over ten cities!" Luke 19:17

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Pousa, the Chinese potter

There is a story of Pousa, the Chinese potter, who received from the emperor a command to make a rare set of porcelain ware for the royal table. With greatest pains he began his work, desiring to make it the finest achievement of his life. Again and again, however, when the pieces were put into the furnace, they came out marred. At length another set was ready for the burning, and the potter hoped that this one would be successful. He had wrought it with the greatest care. But as he watched it in the furnace, he saw that this too would be a failure. In his despair, he threw himself into the fire, and his body was consumed. But when the pieces were taken out, they were found to be so wondrously beautiful, that nothing like them had ever before been seen. Not until the potter gave himself, sacrificing his own life in the doing of it, was his work successful.
This old heathen legend has its lesson for Christian life. Our work never reaches the highest beauty, is never fit for our King until love's self-sacrifice is brought into it. Things we do ourselves, to win honor for our own name, to make profit for our own enrichment are never the things that are most beautiful, or fit for King Jesus.

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service." Romans 12:1

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The human touch

A visitor to a glass manufacturer saw a man molding clay into the great pots which were to be used in shaping the glass. Noticing that all the molding was done by hand, he said to the workman, "Why do you not use a tool to aid you in shaping the clay?" The workman replied, "There is no tool that can do this work. We have tried different ones, but somehow it needs the human touch."

There is much of the Lord's work which likewise needs the "human touch." The Divine hand would have been too glorious, too dazzling, too bright if it had been reached out of Heaven to help, to lift up, to save, to wipe away tears, to heal heart-wounds, to be laid in blessing on the children's heads. So therefore God took a human form, that with a human hand, He might touch the sinful and the sorrowing.

And now that Christ has gone back into Heaven He does not reach out of the skies, that glorified hand, which burns with splendor to do His work of love in this world. Instead, He uses our common hands yours and mine, sending us to do in His name, the gentle ministries He would have done for His little ones.

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As horrible as this story is

There is a story of an Italian nobleman, who took this terrible revenge on one whom he hated. He put him alive in a niche in the palace he was building, and piled row upon row of bricks and stones around him, until the wall closed over his head and shut him in his dark and awful living tomb.
As horrible as this story is, it is just what many men are doing with their souls. They are piling bricks and stones around them, walling them in, and leaving them there to die! In the very core of many a great fortune which men have gathered; in the inner chamber of many a beautiful palace which men have built; in the deepest shrine of many a temple of honor which men have reared in their own praise hidden away out of sight is a grave over which the angels weep the grave of a soul.
Many a man has buried his soul in his business.
Many a poor sot has dug a deep grave for his soul, with the wine cup for a spade.
Fashion has woven the shroud and pall for many a poor girl's soul.
In many a garden of beauty and pleasure, hidden among the flowers is a grave where innocence, faith, purity, virtue, honor, and truth lie buried.

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Unconscious Ministry

It is said that when Thorwaldsen, the Danish sculptor, returned to his native land with those wonderful works of art which have made his name immortal, chiseled in Italy with patient toil and glowing inspiration, the servants who unpacked the marble statues, scattered upon the ground the straw which was wrapped around them. The next summer flowers from the gardens of Rome were blooming in the streets of Copenhagen, from the seeds thus borne and planted by accident. While pursuing his glorious purpose, and leaving magnificent results in breathing marble, the artist was, at the same time, and unconsciously, scattering other beautiful things in his path to give cheer and gladness.
In the same way, Christ's lowly workers unconsciously bless the world. They come out every morning from the presence of God and go to their work, intent upon their daily tasks. All day long as they toil, they drop gentle words from their lips, and scatter little seeds of kindness about them; and tomorrow flowers from the garden of God, spring up in the dusty streets of earth and along the hard paths of toil on which their feet tread. The Lord knows them among all others to be His, by the beauty and usefulness of their lives.

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In the rugged hills of toil and hardship

The law of compensation runs through all God's distribution of gifts. In the animal world there is a wonderful harmony, often noted, between the creatures and the circumstances and conditions amid which they are placed. The same law rules in the providence of human life. One man's farm is hilly and hard to till but deep down beneath its ruggedness, buried away in its rocks, are rich minerals. In the same way, one person's lot in life is hard, with peculiar obstacles, difficulties, and trials but hidden in it there are compensations of some kind.

One young man is reared in affluence and luxury. He never experiences lack or self-denial, never has to struggle with obstacles or adverse circumstances. Another is reared in poverty and has to suffer toil and privation. The latter seems to have scarcely an equal chance in life. But we all know where the compensation lies in this case. It is in such circumstances that noble manhood is grown while, too often, the petted, pampered sons of luxury come to nothing. In the rugged hills of toil and hardship, life's finest gold is found.

"God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it!" Hebrews 12:10-11

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This old heathen legend

The valley of Charabra, in India, is rich in its fertility and beauty. The cause of all this fertility is a wonderful spring of water which flows from a hillside, and furnishes water for the irrigation of the whole valley, and for the use of the people who live there.
Once, says the legend, the valley was without water, and there was desolation everywhere. The plants and trees were all withering, and the people were dying of thirst. The princess of the place took the sorrows of her subjects much to heart. She consulted the oracle to learn how the constant curse of drought could be removed. The oracle said that if the princess of the land would die for the people, abundant water would be given. She hastened to give her life. Her grave was made, and she was buried alive. Then forth from her tomb came a river which flowed down into the valley, restoring all languishing life in field and garden, and sending water to every door for the famishing people to drink. Ever since, the streams have continued to flow from the wonderful spring, carrying their precious blessing to every home.
This old heathen legend beautifully illustrates what Christ did. The world was perishing for lack of the water of life; Jesus died and was buried, and from his cross and broken grave poured out the river of the water of life for the quenching of the world's thirst. Its streams run everywhere, and wherever they flow the wilderness has been made to blossom like a garden of roses. Beauty blooms wherever they run. All the world's joy, comes from the grave of our risen Lord.

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Post-mortem kindnesses

Do not keep the alabaster boxes of your affection sealed and laid away until your friends are dead. Fill their days with tenderness. Speak your words of commendation while their ears can hear them. The things you mean to say when they are gone say before they go. The flowers you mean to send for their coffins send beforehand to brighten and sweeten their homes before they go out of them.

I have often said and I know I speak for thousands of other weary, plodding toilers that if my friends have vases laid away, filled with the perfumes of sympathy and affection, which they intend to break over my dead body I would far rather they would bring them out along my toilsome days and open them, when I can enjoy them and be refreshed by them.

Post-mortem kindnesses do not cheer the burdened spirit. Tears falling on the icy brow of death, make poor and too tardy atonement for coldness, neglect, and cruel selfishness in life's long, struggling years. Appreciation when the heart is stilled in death, has no inspiration for the spirit. Justice comes too late when it is pronounced only in funeral eulogy. Flowers piled on the coffin, cast no fragrance backward over weary days.

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Two little birds

Two little birds went out one lovely spring morning to build their nests. One found a tree and built her nest in its branches. It was a very pleasant place. Blossoms filled the air with fragrance, a river murmured beneath, its waters rippling and sparkling in the sunlight, and at night reflecting the silver stars in the blue sky overhead. But one night there was a great storm, and floods rolled through the river's channel, overflowing its banks. In the morning the tree was gone, and the bird's home had vanished. She had built too low. She had planned only for the soft, sunny days and the quiet, starry nights.
The other bird soared up among the crags and built her nest in a cleft of one of the old rocks. By and by the nest was full of bird-life. The storm that swept through the valley below swept about the old crag, but could not shake it. In the morning the sunshine streamed forth again, and the birds' home was safe.
Are you building your soul's home among the green boughs of mere human friendship, in life's beautiful valleys, close by the river of earth's pleasures, where the sweet perfumes breathe? Or are you building up amid the crags, in the Rock of Ages? Are you building merely for sunny days, or for floods and storms as well?

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash!" Matthew 7:24-27 

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The rescue!

A captain of an ocean vessel, one day as his ship was speeding through the waters, saw a signal of distress some distance off. A telescope was turned to the spot, and it was seen that there was only one man on a piece of wreck. To go to his rescue, the ship would have to be stopped and turned back in her course, losing much time.
"No," said the captain;" some other vessel will pick him up. "He speeded on and arrived in port in good time, and was commended for his swift passage. But he could not get out of his mind, the memory of that signal of distress out there on the wild seas, and the sight through the telescope of that one man on the piece of wreck left there to perish. By day and night, that picture haunted him.
As we are hurrying on these busy days, do we see no signals of distress on life's broad sea? Do we hear no cries, no bitter wails from souls who are out on the angry waves? Do we heed the signals, and hearken to the cries? Do we turn away from our business, our pleasure, our ease, our money getting, our petty ambitions, to carry rescue to those souls who are perishing, or who are in sorrow? Or do we hurry on and say we have no time for these things, no time to save our brothers, no time to lift up fallen ones, no time to wipe away a tear? If we do not turn aside to help or save may not our deepest sorrow in eternity be the memory of cries of distress unheeded? May not the visions of the perishing ones who called to us for help and got no answer, whom we have left unhelped out on the wild waves, haunt us forever?

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Then all the vagueness passes away from the teachings

If you are outside a Catholic cathedral, with its fine stained-glass windows the figures on painted the windows look dim, dull, and obscure mere blotches of vague colors. You cannot see the artistic designs, the noble representations, the delicate shading. But if you go inside the building the windows reveal themselves to you in all their exquisite loveliness. There is no more haziness about them. The figures appear in clear outline, in all their artistic beauty. The scenes are pictured so distinctly, that they seem almost like-life. From outside all is vague and dim and shadowy. But from within all is clear, plain, shining in rich beauty.
This illustrates the story of many people's experience of Christian truth. When they think of it from outside, having yet no experience of it it all seems misty and vague. They cannot understand it. They cannot see any beauty in it. Then they pass within the sacred temple of Divine truth. They become followers of Christ, children of God. They yield their hearts to the Holy Spirit and begin to do the will of their Father. Then all the vagueness passes away from the teachings.

"Whoever has My commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves Me. He who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I too will love him and reveal Myself to him." John 14:21

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The story is an allegory

There is a story of a young knight, brave, manly, strong who was victorious over every foe. In every combat he was successful, until he grew proud and self-confident.

One day he went forth and stood before the gate of a great white castle, and uttered his challenge. A knight in armor came out, and after a brief combat, defeated him. When the victor removed the armor he had worn, lo! it was a woman, clad in spotless white. From henceforth, she became the guide of the proud young man, leading him to true nobleness and glory.
The story is an allegory. The white castle is the castle of truth. The white garment is the symbol of purity. Truth and purity are the qualities which give strength and victory and blessing. We never can make anything truly worthy and noble of our life, until we meet Christ and are defeated by Him; and brought to acknowledge Him as our King and Master. He does not then show himself, however, as our enemy, but as our friend. Beneath the conqueror's armor, we find the heart of love. He subdues us that He may save us. When we yield to Him He becomes the guide of our life, leading us on to nobleness and glory!

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It is only pearls!

An Arab once lost his way in the desert. His provisions were soon exhausted. For two days and two nights he had not a morsel to eat. He began to fear that he would die of hunger. He looked eagerly, but in vain, along the level sand for some caravan of travelers from whom he might beg some food and water. At last he came to a place where there was a little water in a well, and around the well the marks of an encampment. Some people had lately pitched their tents there, and gathered them up and gone away again. The starving Arab looked around in the hope of finding some food that the travelers might have left behind. After searching awhile, he came upon a little bag tied at the mouth, and full of something that felt hard and round. He opened the bag with great joy, thinking it contained either dates or nuts, and expecting that with them he should be able to satisfy his hunger. But as soon as he saw what the sack contained he threw it on the ground in bitter disappointment, and cried out in despair, "It is only pearls!" falling down in the desert to die.
Just so, in the great crises of life, this world's most prized things are only mockeries. If we cannot have bread, the bread of life, we shall perish!

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Influence after our death

One plants a tree, and, long after he is dead, weary ones rest at noonday beneath its shade, and pluck its fruits to feed their hunger.

Just so, the things we do on earth, do not cease to have influence after our death.

Every good word spoken in this world, every sweet song sung, every holy thought or impulse of blessing started shall go on and on, until the end of all things. In this sense, our works shall follow us. The things we do for Christ here, the inspirations we put into immortal lives, the lessons we teach, the influences of good we start shall not die with us.

David has been dead nearly three thousand years, and yet his words are following him in all Christian lands; as his songs are sung, their influence breathing through millions of hearts. Paul has been dead many centuries, but his works are following him wherever his words are read.

Just so, the humblest believer who lives and sets in motion even one gentle word, or one helpful impulse has started works which shall follow him until the end of time. Our life does not die out of this world when we leave it.

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He would give gold to everyone who would ask Him

If God announced that He would give gold to everyone who would ask Him how many would remain poor? Would not the gates of Heaven be thronged perpetually with seekers for the dazzling gift? If crowns and honors and earthly prizes were promised for the asking who would not ask for them?

Now, all the glorious things of divine love and grace, are to be had, simply for the asking. Does it seem possible that anyone should fail then to ask? Is it because it is a spiritual good, that so few ask for it? Or do men really know, as they go on in their mad rush for money and power that God Himself may be had for the asking? They toil and sacrifice and wear out their lives and lose their souls to gain perishable riches; while by falling on their knees, and turning their eyes toward God, and putting up an earnest cry to Him, they would receive eternal possessions, imperishable crowns and treasures!

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Out of life's silences

The gems of the world's literature, the marvelous inventions of science and art, grand thoughts and words which live age after age are the fruit of long pondering in silence.

From the silent studio of a Raphael comes at length the work of art, before which the world pauses in enrapt enthusiasm. The poet broods long in silence and then gives to the world his immortal song, and it sings on for ages in the hearts of men.

The inventor knits his brow and bends over his models with intense, absorbing interest, in the hush of many a midnight and by and by you see his perfected machine a blessing to the toiling race.

The orator shuts his doors and in secret evolves great thoughts and writes grand sentences and polishes majestic periods and thousands are moved and swayed by his burning eloquence when he comes forth to speak and tyranny, oppression, and wrong are swept away.

The Christian lingers long in the solemn hush of prayer and meditation and when he reappears his face glows, his voice is fired with an inspiration born of heaven, and his arm is strong to do valiant deeds for his Lord!

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A lamp to guide my feet

One who carries a lantern on a country road at night sees only one step before him. If he takes that one step, he carries the lantern forward and thus makes another step plain. At length he reaches his destination in safety, without once going into darkness. The whole has been made light for him, though only a single step of it at a time.
This illustrates the usual method of God's guidance. His Word is represented as a lamp unto the feet. It is a lamp not a blazing sun, not even a lighthouse but a plain common lamp or lantern which one can carry about in the hand. It is a lamp "unto the feet," not throwing its beams afar, not illumining a hemisphere, but shining only on the one little bit of dusty road on which the pilgrim's feet are walking.

Our duty for the moment is always clear, and that is as far as we need concern ourselves; for when we do the little that is clear, we will carry the light on, and it will shine upon the next moment's step.

"Your Word is a lamp to guide my feet, and a light for my path!" Psalm 119:105

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The doom of the useless

Long ago, there was a magnificent Temple of the Sun at Baalbek some of whose pillars are yet standing. Nearby is the quarry from which the stones came for the wonderful temple. In this quarry, dressed and ready for its place in the temple is an immense column, seventy feet in length. A vacant place in the temple is waiting for it, and for four thousand years, this column has lain there in the quarry. It has never occupied the place for which it was designed.
There are many men like that useless monolith. Made for a noble destiny, with grand possibilities they have missed it all for lack of a lofty purpose and a worthy energy. They folded their talents away in the napkins of supposed humility, of self-distrust, or of indolence and disobedience and buried them in the earth. They will lie forever among the wastes and ruins of life, pale ghosts of glorious "might have beens" while the places in God's temple which they were meant to fill, remain vacant.

It is a glorious thought, that each of our little lives is a plan of God that God made us for something definite and particular. Let our highest aim be to become what He made us to be. Let us never shrink from any task or duty to which He calls us. Let us train ourselves to obey every call of God, lest, in our hesitancy or disobedience we fail of the mission for which we were made, and meet the doom of the useless in God's universe.

"For three years now I've been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven't found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?" Luke 13:7

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It is one of the blessings of trial

There is an ancient picture of the Christ-child in the stable. The child lies upon the straw, the mother is bending over him, the wondering shepherds are near, and in the background are the cattle. It is night, and there is only one feeble lantern in the place; but from the infant child, a radiance streams which lights up all the crude scene.
So it is in sorrow-darkened hearts, when Christ truly dwells within. The light streaming from Him who is the Light of the world, in whom is no darkness illumines all the gloom of grief. Indeed, when Christ dwells in the heart, sorrow is a blessing, because it reveals beauties and joys which could not have been seen in the earthly light. It is one of the blessings of night that without it we could never see the stars. It is one of the blessings of trial that without it we could never see the precious comforts of God!

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The power of unselfishness

When Alexander the Great was storming one of the cities of Malli, in India, having forced the gate open, he made his way at the head of one of his columns to the citadel where the besieged force had retreated. Impatient that the work of scaling the citadel's wall did not progress as fast as he desired, he seized a ladder, planted it himself, and was the first to ascend. Seeing the king alone, and in great danger, the soldiers made such a rush to the rescue, that the scaling ladders broke beneath the over-weight, and Alexander was left in the midst of his enemies with only three soldiers, who had gotten up before the ladders' broke.

Nothing daunted, the great soldier leaped inside the wall, and stood like a tiger at bay, until he fell exhausted by the loss of blood. One of his comrades had been killed outright, but the other two locked their shields together over their king's prostrate body, and though dripping from many a wound, whirled their swords fiercely in their other hands, keeping off their enemies. Meanwhile, the Macedonians forced an entrance, and enraged beyond control at the supposed death of their king, they literally wiped the town from the face of the earth.
Turn back the story's page, and you will find the reason for this devotion to their leader. During the pursuit of Darius, after marching four hundred miles in eleven days, when but sixty of his men could keep up with him, and all were dying, it seemed, of thirst, a helmetful of water was handed to Alexander. He declined to drink one drop, because there was not enough for all. This was the secret of the king's marvelous influence over his soldiers. There is no power of wealth or genius or position or fame, so strong as the power of unselfishness.

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We have the whole wonderful verse

A story is told of a child who had been taught to think of God only with dread, as of a terrible judge. In her stern home, the name of God had been mentioned only to terrify and frighten her. But one day, in her father's printing-office, she picked up a scrap of paper, and found on it the first words of this verse, "God so loved the world that He gave" The remaining words were torn off; but even in this mere fragment there was a new revelation to her. It told her that God loved the world, loved it well enough to give something. What He gave she did not know; but it was a great deal for her to know that He loved the world enough to give anything to it.

The new thought brought great joy to her heart. It changed all her conceptions of God. She learned to think of Him as one who loved her, as her friend, ready to give her rich gifts and all good and this brightened and transformed her life.
We have the whole wonderful verse. We know what God gave the most costly and precious gift in all the universe and the full revelation should fill us with unutterable gladness and joy.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

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Preparing for the dark paths

Before conducting them into dark catacombs, or caverns, the guides put lamps into the tourists' hands. The pale beams may seem useless while they walk in the full blaze of noonday; but when they enter the darkness of the cave, the splendor of daylight quickly fades out, and then the lamp's flame begins to shine brightly, and the visitors soon see how valuable and how necessary their lamps are. Without them, they would be lost in the thick gloom and in the inextricable mazes.
We are wise if we get into our hearts in the days of brightness, the lamps of God's promises and of comforts. Then when grief or trial comes, and the sun of earthly joy goes down, these hidden lights will shine like the stars that come out in the sky when the day is over. We are wise if we take whatever lamps of gladness God puts into our hands as we go along through the sunny ways. We may not see their need at the time, but tomorrow these may be the only lights we shall have to guide us in safety through ways of peril, trial, affliction, sorrow or death.

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You are the mirror

We look upon the glory of the Lord, and as we gaze the glory streams upon us, and there is an image of Christ mirrored or reflected in us. Then others, looking upon us, see the image of Christ in our lives.

You look into a little pool of still water at night, and see the stars in it; or by day, and see the blue sky and the heavens.

Just so, you look upon Christ in loving faith and adoration, and His glory shines down into your soul. Then your neighbors or your friends about you . . .
  look at you,
  see your character,
  watch your conduct,
  observe your disposition and temper,
  and all the play of your life.
And, as they behold you, they perceive the image of Christ in you. You are the mirror, and in you, men see the beauty and the glory of the Lord. 

"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory." 2 Corinthians 3:18

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The dove

A great many tender thoughts cluster around the DOVE.

It was a dove, which the very poor were permitted to bring to the altar as an offering, as a substitute for a more costly animal.

The appearance of the dove was one of the harbingers, or prophecies, of coming spring.

The dove was always remembered by the Jews, in connection with the abatement of the waters of the deluge, when it returned to the ark bearing the olive leaf; and it, as well as the olive branch, has become among all Christian nations, an emblem of peace.

The dove was also referred to by Christ as a symbol of gentleness and harmlessness.
All these associations made the dove a most fitting emblematic form for the Holy Spirit to assume, when descending upon Christ.
For Jesus came to be a sacrifice for all believers, even the poorest.
He came as the spring comes, bringing life to a dead world.
He came bringing a message of peace from Heaven to every one who heartily believes Him.
And He is like the dove in gentleness and harmlessness.
It is this same Holy Dove who must descend upon us, if the kingdom of Heaven is truly to begin in our hearts. Until the Holy Spirit has been given to us there is no spiritual life in our souls, and no power in us for work; but the divine anointing is promised to all who truly consecrate themselves to Christ, and believe on Him. No vision of cloven heavens and descending dove appears to human eyes; but above every scene of holy devotement to Christ, this blessed reality hangs.

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Unrecognized opportunities
There is a legend of an artist who long sought for a piece of choice sandal-wood out of which to carve a Madonna. At last he was about to give up in despair, leaving the vision of his life unrealized, when in a dream he was bidden to shape the figure from a block of oak wood which was destined for the fire. Obeying the command, he produced a masterpiece from the piece of common firewood.
In like manner, many people wait for great and brilliant opportunities for doing the good things, the beautiful things, of which they dream while through all the common days, the very opportunities they require for such deeds, lie close to them, in the simplest and most common passing events. They wait to find choice sandal-wood out of which to carve Madonnas, while far more lovely Madonnas than they dream of, are hidden in the common pieces of oak which they burn in the open fireplace, or spurn with their feet in the yard.

"Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God!" 1 Corinthians 10:31

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Your life may be all that stands between some great flood of moral ruin

Stories are told of a child finding a little leak, in the dike which shuts off the sea from Holland, and stopping it with his hand until help could come, staying there all night, holding back the floods with his little pale hand. It was but a tiny, trickling stream which he held back; yet, if he had not done it it soon would have become a torrent, and before morning the sea would have swept over the land, submerging fields, homes, and cities! Between the sea and all this devastation, there was but a little boy's hand. Had the child failed, the floods would have rolled in with their remorseless ruin. We understand how important it was that that boy should be faithful to his duty, since he was the only one who could have saved Holland that night.
In the same way, your life may be all that stands between some great flood of moral ruin and broad fair fields of beauty? The humblest of us dare not fail in our lowly place and duty for we may be all that stands between a sea of disaster which shall sweep away human hopes and joys and human souls!

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Pierced hands

As I read the ancient story of the love and heroism of David's mighty men, when they hewed their way through the lines of the Philistines, drew up the sparkling water from the cool well, and bore it back through the same hostile ranks to their fainting chief in the cave another picture rises up before me.

I see a world of men and women, shut up in the dark dungeons of sin. They bear marks of disaster and defeat. They have been driven away from the home of their childhood, and that home is now in the enemy's hands. Then I see One rise up in His might, His heart touched with pity and stirred with infinite love. Majesty is on His brow. Strength is in His arm. Compassion is in His eye. He goes forth alone, none of the people with Him. Warlike hosts gather about the old lost well of life to hold it, but He moves on in calm majesty, I see Him pass through the armed lines. There are tens of thousands against one.
He is smitten on this side and on that side.
His back is torn with the scourge.
His hands are pierced with nails.
He dies on a cross.
"Who is this that comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah . . . glorious in His apparel, traveling in the greatness of his strength?" It is the Lord. He has cut his way through the hosts of his enemies. See, His garments are stained with blood. He fought for the old well by the gate, and comes bearing in His hands its cool, sweet water, to give to those that are thirsty. He has re-conquered for His people, the blessings of which sin had robbed us. He has gotten back for us the old home, with all its joys. He returns, marked with wounds, weary and dust-covered, bearing in His hands water, the water of life, from the old well.
The blessings and hopes of Christian faith, which are so dear to us, are blood bought. By Christ's stripes we are healed.
We have joy because He endured sorrow.
We have peace in the midst of storm because He faced the tempest.
We have forgiveness of sin because the darkness gathered about His soul on the cross.
We have life, eternal life because He died in shame.
The grave has no gloom for us because He lay in it wrapping its glooms about His own soul.
Every blessing comes to us baptized with Christ's blood the blood of the Son of God. The hands that save us are pierced hands pierced in saving us!

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One day she secretly followed him

Krummacher has a pleasant little legend of Zaccheus, who found Christ by getting into a sycamore tree. Krummacher says that in his old age Zaccheus still dwelt at Jericho, humble and pious before God and man. Every morning at sunrise he would go out to the fields for a walk.
After these walks he always came back with a quiet, happy mind, to begin his day's work. His wife noticed his unvarying habit, and became curious to know where he went and what he did. One day she secretly followed him. He went straight to that tree from which he first saw the Lord. Hiding herself from his view, she watched him. He took a pitcher of water and poured water upon the roots of the tree, which were getting dry in the sultry heat. Then he pulled up a few weeds he found growing there. After this, he looked up long and lovingly at the branches, where he had sat that blessed day, when he first saw Jesus. At last, with a patient, grateful smile upon his face, he returned to his home.
Is there no suggestion in this for members of the church? Was it not in the church that you first saw Christ? Is not the place sacred to your heart? Should you not do for your church, what Zaccheus did for his tree? Should you not daily water its roots, by your prayers and tears and toils? Should you not seek to keep the weeds away from about it, at least so far as your own life is concerned? Should you not do all you can in some way to nourish it and make it prosperous, a place of blessing to many more, as it has been to you? Your labor will not be in vain in the Lord.

"Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain!" 1 Corinthians 15:58

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We should seek the clasp of Christ's hand

One of Wellington's officers, when commanded to go on some perilous duty, lingered a moment as if afraid, and then said, "Let me have one clasp of your all-conquering hand before I go; and then I can do it."

Just so, we should seek the clasp of Christ's hand before every bit of work, every hard task, every battle, every good deed. Bend your head in the dewy freshness of every morning, before you go forth to meet the day's duties and perils, and wait for the blessing of Christ, as He lays His hands upon you. They are hands of blessing. Their touch will inspire you for courage and strength and all beautiful and noble living!

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The hand that the nail pierced

During our Civil War, word came to a mother that her boy had been wounded. She found her way to the hospital at the front. The doctor said to her, "Your boy is fast asleep. If you go in and wake him, the excitement will kill him. By and by, when he awakes, I will break the news to him gradually."

The mother, with her great hungry heart yearning to see her boy, looked into the doctor's face and said, "He may never awaken. If you will let me sit by his side, I promise not to speak to him." The doctor consented. She crept to the side of the cot and looked into the face of her boy. How she longed to embrace him! She could not resist laying her gentle loving hand on his forehead. The moment her fingers touched the boy's brow, his lips moved and he whispered, without opening his eyes, "Mother, you have come." Even in his sleep, he knew that touch of love.
The human touch on lives who need comfort, healing, and blessing carries wonderful healing power.

But shall we not bow our heads for the touch of Christ Himself? He lays His hand gently and lovingly upon our brow. Some of us may be in sorrow; some are in afflictions; some have their burdens. But do you not recognize that soft touch of Christ's hand the hand that the nail pierced? May the touch give joy to everyone!